Swiss Evangelicals reject conversion therapy but don’t believe in ban


Central Europe


Photo Niek Stam

While the Swiss Parliament has yet to decide whether to ban conversion therapies, the Swiss Evangelical Alliance (SEA) distances itself from these treatments. However, it does not want a ban on it.

With the so-called conversion therapies, homosexual people are treated to become heterosexual. “Scientists today are largely in agreement that sexual orientation is not amenable to targeted action”, writes SEA in its statement, published on Thursday.

According to them, homosexuality should not be regarded as a disease that needs treatment. “There were painful mistakes in this regard in the past, which we regret.”

Pastoral care

According to SEA, however, there should not be a complete ban on conversion therapies. Their argument is this: what defines conversion therapy? A total ban makes life difficult for faithful Christians who struggle with their sexuality and want pastoral care. “A ban on “conversion therapies” threatens to place these under general suspicion and thus deter people with a legitimate need from valuable assistance.”

The SEA argues further that there is no actual need for regulation since there have been no reports suggesting that currently, therapies are being held in Switzerland.

Not only the SEA is concerned about a total ban. National Councilor Erich von Siebenthal asked for more clarity on the definition of “conversion therapy” and the extent of such practices in Switzerland.


On Friday, a Swiss reporter for a television show disguised himself as a homosexual Christian who wanted to change his sexual orientation. Marc Jost, the Secretary-General of SEA, commented on SEA’s website on the sometimes-questionable offers. “The report is very upsetting and shows that Christian circles must continue to be made aware that homosexuality is not a disease that can be treated.”

Jost, however, did point out that counselling can be very helpful because “if a person has a sexual feeling that they don’t want to live out, they have a conflict and need help.”

Marc Jost explains the problem of a ban on conversion therapies using the example of France, which banned these practices in December last year and confirmed this with a parliamentary vote this Tuesday: “There you have to define exceptions to the ban. The ban does not bring more clarity as to what is still allowed and what is not, and unsettles both the person seeking advice and the person advising.”


Conversion therapy is controversial. Across Europe, countries struggle with the phenomenon. Whereas the Norwegian government wants to abolish the treatments for being harmful, the government in the Netherlands, for example, does not want to forbid therapy. Although the government called it “disgusting”, it thinks there are easier and more practical ways to combat the treatment.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.