Belgium forbids conversion therapy


Western Europe


Belgium outlaws therapies that aim to change or supress someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Anyone who violates this ban on the so-called conversion therapies risks a jail term of between a month and a year or a fine of up to 300 euros. Proposing or encouraging conversion therapy is punishable as well.

"This ban is a powerful deed to protect victims against this symbolic, psychologic and sometimes even physical violence", Sarah Schlitz says. She is the secretary of state for Equal Chances. According to her, the ban also signals to the rest of society that "those who are not ill should not be treated."

The therapies are controversial and seen as unscientific. Victims are subjected to electric shocks or sickening medications if they respond to gay erotic pictures. In addition, they can be pressured psychologically.

In 2009, a lesbian Muslim girl died in Belgium after a ritual demon excorcism, requested by her parents and carried out by a prayer healer. In several other European countries, such as France, Germany, Malta and some Spanish regions, conversion therapy is already forbidden.

In countries that are proposing the ban, some Christians are worried that it restricts their freedom of religion. They are concerned that praying for homosexuals or having a conversation with them about their sexual orientation will become illegal as well.



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