Care unit in Norway fears ban on conversion therapy will block treatment for paedophiles


Northern Europe


The special unit of the University Hospital in Oslo that treats paedophiles fears that the conversion therapy ban will cause problems. If it is no longer legal to help people in suppressing their desires or orientation, this also applies to treatment for them that feel attracted to minors. Photo Wikipedia

The Norwegian bill for a ban on conversion therapy may hinder the help of paedophiles as well. The government denies that, but specialists from the Oslo University Hospital are warning against the present proposal.

The hospital has a Special Outpatient Unit for mental health and addictions. They also give treatment to people who are sexually attracted to minors, dead people and animals. Since the government tries to ban to make another person suppress their sexual orientation, the question is what to do with those persons.

It is mainly paedophiles that seek help from this unit, tells senior physician Anne Wold to the new Christian Norwegian news channel Verdinytt. The clinic believes its business may be affected by the announced legal ban on conversion therapy.

Last month, the special unit sent a lengthy consultation response to the Ministry of Culture of Equality. In response to the consultation, Wold writes that the legal text does not clarify “whether treatment of sexual disorders involving non-consenting objects, including paedophile disorder, is affected by the penalty clause”. On behalf of the Special Outpatient Unit, she is calling for this to be explained.

The Solberg government (2017-2021) first submitted for consultation a proposal for a ban on “conversion therapy” in June 2022. After the change of government, the Ministry of Culture and Equality under Minister Anette Trettebergstuen (Labour) changed the proposal’s content and conducted a new consultation round. During the consultation, 1200 reactions were given, among which was a lot of criticism.

In the bill, the ministry has defined “conversion therapy” as “using methods to get another person to change, deny or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity, which is suitable for inflicting psychological damage on the person concerned”.

Anne Wold.jpeg
Anne Wold. Photo OUS

Superintendent Wold points out that in work with paedophiles, it is precisely this what she does: suppressing or changing sexual impulses. “For patients who experience their sexual interest as troublesome, and/or are believed to be able to harm others, a central part of the treatment will be about how to manage thoughts/desires, and how to refrain from acting on them”, she explains in the consultation response.

She says further: “For some, the sexual attraction to minors is stronger than the attraction to adults, and in these cases, techniques/strategies are worked on that facilitate the adult attraction and dampen the attraction to minors. This can be seen as an approach that aims to change and/or suppress sexual impulses. Suppose a person is only attracted to, for example, minors. In that case, the treatment will focus on how the person concerned can live a meaningful life without being able to act on their sexual interests.”


The government says it has already formulated the bill so that the particular unit can continue to help paedophiles. However, the special outpatient unit does not agree that this has been clarified yet, according to the report in Verdinytt.

Wold: “The definition the ministry refers to apparently limits sexual orientation to something that deals with two opposite sexes (persons of the opposite sex, of the same sex or both sexes). This seems to be in contrast to the fact that the same ministry has proposed investigating the introduction of a third legal gender, and that the ministry uses terms such as ‘non-binary’ in the description of ‘queer’,” she points out in response to the consultation.



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