Sweden: Even attempt to changing homosexuality might be illegal


Northern Europe


A LGBT rainbow flag hangs from on the steeple of a parish church. Photo AFP, Alex Halada

The government should investigate a ban on the "attempts at conversion" of LGBT people. That is the appeal of the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society Affairs (MUCF). If accepted, the proposal can have significant consequences for churches.

Originally, the government asked the MUCF to map so-called conversion therapies. Världen idag writes. During these practices, therapists attempt to ‘cure’ people with a homosexual orientation.

However, the MUCF decided to also look at "conversion attempts." Earlier, the agency defined these "attempts" as "both acts that are illegal today, such as threats and violence, and acts that are not illegal, such as rituals and prayer to cure the individual, or other forms of pressure and coercion", Världen idag reports.

The MUCF released a report that condemns violations against LGBT people and examples of classical Christian preaching and Biblical theology. Therefore, its inquiry into a ban on "conversion attempts" may have far-reaching consequences for Swedish churches. Världen idag asked the agency whether these attempts included citing a Bible verse that says that homosexuality is a sin. The MUCF did not deny so.

“Religioun abused to cure homosexuality”

The MUCF press department stated that the context matters when assessing whether a practice is seen as a conversion attempt. According to the agency, an attempt occurs when people try to change someone's sexual identity or force the person to refrain from living out his sexual orientation. In addition, prohibiting people from expressing their gender in the way they want is a conversion attempt.

Therefore, the traditional view on marriage between males and females could also be classified as hostile towards LGBT people. The MUCF press department is careful to say that all expressions of the traditional view on marriage are seen as hostile. However, it states that actions of the congregation or family have led to fear of conversion attempts or being excluded from the social community, congregation or family, Världen idag writes.

The MUCF concludes that abuses happen when religious practices are "used to cure the young LGBT person." If the government goes ahead with the proposal to look into conversion attempts, legislators will have to "investigate and ensure the balance between respect for everyone's rights and religious freedom", the MUCF states.



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