Majority of Norwegian Parliament supports ban on conversion therapy

24-11-2023

Northern Europe

CNE.news

Protest against conversion therapy. Photo AFP, Christina Assi

After a long time and political debate, the Norwegian government seems to have enough support for a ban on conversion therapy for homosexuals.

The Liberals, Conservatives and Socialist Venstre Party have reached an agreement with the Labour Party and the Centre Party on the proposal for conversion therapy, Dagen writes. With the agreement, a ban on practices meant to change someone's sexual orientation comes closer. In December, the Storting will consider the proposal, which is thus most likely supported by a majority.

If the bill is turned into law, any attempts to change one's sexual orientation will become illegal and punishable with a three-year jail term, which can even be extended to six years, Dagbladet writes.

The support of the Conservative Party for the proposal was crucial in gaining a majority in the Storting, Vart Land reported. Last week, the party was able to form a unified view in support of the bill, Turid Kristensen, a member of the Family and Culture Committee of the Conservative Party, confirmed to the newspaper. She says she hopes that the ban can "come into force as soon as possible."

Predetermined

The ban on conversion therapy is especially aimed at certain Christian and Muslim communities, Dagbladet writes. However, not everyone is happy about it, as some fear that it violates freedom of expression. Øivind Benestad, director of the Norwegian family organisation Stiftelsen MorFarBarn writes in an opinion article in Dagen that the proposal is one-sided. "Absolutely everything seems to be written to support a predetermined conclusion: not whether conversion therapy should be criminalised but how."

Furthermore, he is critical of the research that lies at the base of the proposal. Benestad points out that the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs acknowledges in the introduction of the report on conversion therapy that the research has been conducted under time pressure and a lack of resources.

Re-education

In addition, used resources were not checked on quality. Therefore, the director of the family organisation warns for "irresponsible and manipulative legislation." Lastly, he points out that the ban on conversion therapy fits perfectly within a series of political initiatives to increase "gender and sexuality diversity", and which aims to "re-educate the Norwegian population" with "gender ideology." In short, Benestad would like to see the conversion ban be postponed or, rather, abolished.

Erhard Hermansen, secretary general of the Christian Council of Norway, tells Dagen that many churchgoing Norwegians do not know what the ban actually entails. He believes that it will lead to an increased fear among people to speak out on the topics of gender and sexuality.

The Storting is scheduled to consider the ban on December 7.

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