Norwegian government wants to end conversion therapy


Northern Europe


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The Norwegian government wants to put an end to the so-called conversion therapy for LGBT people. It does not intend to wait for a study into the phenomenon, which the Ministry of Children and Families announced a few days earlier.

The State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture Gry Haugsbakken confirmed this in an email to Norwegian daily Vårt Land on Sunday.

It all started in July, when the then Minister of Culture and Gender Equality, Abid Raja, sent a proposal to ban conversion therapy out for consultation. He noted, however, that there is not much known about this practice.

On Friday, Vårt Land reported that the Directorate for Children, Adolescents and Families (Bufdir) plans to start a study into conversion therapy in the following months. The investigation should map out how widespread this is and the therapy’s results and experiences. The costs of the research are around 150,000 euros.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud is among those who believe that this investigation is important if conversion therapy is subject to a new law. “Since the regulation will in part involve balancing human rights, including interfering with them, the factual basis must be good, so that a good proportionality assessment can be made,” they wrote in their consultation response.


Between July and today, however, there were elections. On September 13th, the leading Conservative party was beaten by the Labour Party.

Anette Trettebergstuen, the new Minister of Culture and Gender Equality, does not want to wait for the report expected in 2023. Trettebergstuen marked itself as a strong critic of the bill that Raja presented. According to her, it does not go far enough since it does not prohibit marketing and allows for the treatment of consenting adults.

This autumn, the day before Trettebergstuen was appointed minister, she told Vårt Land that the government is working for a total ban on “homotherapy”. Such a ban should also apply to adults. “It is harmful to be exposed to conversion therapy regardless of age”, said Trettebergstuen, who was voted Norway’s second most powerful lesbian in 2008 by an influential Norwegian website aimed at the gay community.

In that interview, she also said that a ban on conversion therapy is not a violation of someone's religious freedom. “Freedom of religion is about the right to believe in and practice one’s religion, not the right to infringe on the human rights of others”, Trettebergstuen told reporters.

Pray for gay people

According to Espen Ottosen from the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, there is strictly spoken no conversion therapy in Norway. However, if a broader definition is used, "it will be forbidden to discourage a homosexual from stepping into a same-sex relationship." "With such a broad definition, all conservative Christians will be hit by the ban. It will have consequences for all Christians who preach that marriage is a relation of a man and a woman", Ottesen said in Vårt Land earlier this year.

Conversion therapy is being debated in several European countries. At the moment, it is forbidden in Malta and partially in Germany. There, it is only permitted for people above the age of 18. Last week, the government in the United Kingdom said that it would never forbid Christians to pray for gay people.



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