The German parliament passed a law on May 7 that criminalizes so-called conversion therapy for minors, making it the fifth country to ban the practice.
The legislation targets groups that provide therapy intended to alter the sexual orientation or gender identity of anyone under the age of 18. Parents and legal guardians who coerce their children to take part in the therapy could also face punishment. The law carries a penalty of up to a year in prison or a fine of nearly $35,000.
LGBT advocates around the world are pushing to outlaw the loosely defined practice. Canada introduced similar legislation in March. Twenty U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws or regulations against conversion therapy.
But critics argue that the growing number of therapy bans will make it more difficult for gender-dysphoric youth to access mental health services.
“Germany has now joined the ranks of those who are sacrificing children’s mental health and well-being in order to placate LGBTQ advocates,” said Erin Brewer, founder of The Compassion Coalition, a group that opposes experimental medical procedures and treatments that physically and permanently alter gender-confused children.
Brewer, who is from Logan, Utah, assumed a transgender identity as a child. She credits a school psychologist with helping her find comfort in her biological sex. “It saddens me deeply that children with a trans identity like I had as a child will no longer be able to access appropriate mental health services,” she said. —M.J.