Bans on conversion 'therapies': The situation in selected EU Member States

Briefing 07-06-2022

LGBTI conversion 'therapies' are practices that can be defined as 'any treatment aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity'. Ways to implement them include psychotherapy, medication, electroshock therapy, aversive treatments and exorcism. An alternative term used to describe these practices is sexual orientation and gender identity-expression change efforts (SOGIECE). They can bring about suicidal thoughts but also permanent physical harm, suicide attempts, depression, anxiety, shame, self-hatred and loss of faith. The World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a pathology or disease in 1990 and transsexuality in 2019. In their 2020 report, the independent expert mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council recommended that states ban conversion 'therapy'. The European Parliament has strongly condemned all forms of discrimination against LGBTI people, including LGBTI conversion 'therapies'. Moreover, it has also made repeated calls on the Member States to ban such practices. Within the European Union (EU), four Member States – Malta, Germany, France and Greece – have banned these practices, and many regions in Spain have placed administrative bans on them. Several other Member States have proposed bills in this regard. While the various laws have a comparable structure, there are variations in terms of whICH LGBTI+ groups are protected and what entities are covered by the bans and the sanctions imposed. Moreover, the definition of conversion 'therapy' differs slightly from one Member State to another. This briefing looks at the laws on conversion 'therapies' that are already in place or are proposed for adoption in some Member States. It then compares them, among other things, based on the definition of the practice, the scope of protection offered and the sanctions envisaged.