Mixed reactions in Norway after adoption of ban on conversion therapy


Northern Europe


People take part in the Pride Parade in Oslo. Photo AFP, Javad Parsa

A significant majority of the Norwegian Parliament showed its support for a ban on conversion therapy on Tuesday. However, not everyone is enthusiastic.

In total, 85 MPs voted in favour, while only 15 voted against, Vart Land reports.

The ban on conversion therapy criminalises attempts to change someone's sexual identity or gender orientation. That means that medical treatments, alternative medicines or religious methods to achieve that goal are banned. Anyone who violates the ban risks three years of imprisonment or even six years if the case is serious.


Åse Kristin Ask from the Labour Party calls the decision historic, she says to Dagbladet. "We are finally putting an end to this harmful practice that has been going on for far too long."

Also, Kristin Gunnleiksrud Raaum, a church council leader in Norway, rejoices over the new law. "All people are created in God's image with inviolable value", she tells Dagen. She adds that the Church of Norway distances itself from all forms of conversion therapy.


However, there are also several critical voices. Espen Ottosen from the Swedish Mission Association worries that the ban violates the freedom of belief and the freedom of adults to talk about what they want. "I am critical of all forms of coercion and manipulation but believe the law is in danger of affecting much more than such instruments", he says to Dagen. Ottosen is afraid that the new law will intimidate Christians and prevent them from having conversations and offering pastoral care to people who want to live according to traditional Christian values.

Tone Lise Gustavsen, managing director of the Christian Resource Centre, calls the law dangerous. She worries that parents do not dare to speak to their children about gender and sexuality anymore. "They may be deprived of the right to guide their own children who are confused by their biological reality and have gender incongruity. These well-intending parents could be unjustly accused of engaging in conversion therapy", she explains.



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