The UK Government committed to banning conversion therapy in England and Wales in 2018, yet nearly four years have passed without a ban.
But across the world, many places already have bans in place. In fact, there are 14 countries with some form of national ban on conversion therapy, and many other states, cities and provinces have introduced legislation to protect their citizens. In this article, we’ll look at where conversion therapy is banned, and what those bans look like.
Starting in 1999, Brazil introduced a trailblazing ban on conversion therapy relating to sexual orientation – the first conversion therapy ban in the world! Their ban came through the Federal Council of Psychology, and it was extended to cover gender identity as well as sexual orientation in 2018.
Jumping ahead to 2007, Samoa passed a law stating that people cannot be considered ‘mentally ill’ because of their sexual orientation, preventing registered health professionals from practising conversion therapy. Fiji followed suit in 2010, followed by Taiwan in 2018 – with the latter introducing a criminal ban for health practitioners. In Argentina in 2010, and Uruguay in 2017, mental health laws implemented a ban on conversion therapy on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.
In 2020, Germany banned conversion therapy for minors, as well as protecting adults undergoing conversion therapy because of force, fraud or pressure.
In Spain, Murcia has implemented a ban on registered health professionals practising conversion therapy, and Madrid, Valencia, Andalusia and Aragon all introduced criminal bans in 2017 that would apply to conversion therapy in all settings. In 2020, Queensland State in Australia made conversion therapy in healthcare settings a criminal offence, followed by Victoria, which banned conversion therapy in all settings in 2021. And since 2013, bans of varying forms have been implemented across 20 states, two territories, and multiple local counties or municipalities in the United States.
In 2021, Chile introduced a medical ban, with a bill under discussion that would ban conversion therapy in all settings. In the same year in India, the Madras High Court issued directives to prohibit conversion therapy in India, along with other sweeping reforms to respect LGBTQ+ rights.
Conversion therapy bans for minors were already in place across several Canadian territories but in December 2021, Canada’s House of Commons voted unanimously for a federal ban. This protects both adults and minors from conversion therapy to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Days later, France’s parliament also voted to pass a ban.
As recently as February, New Zealand became the latest country to ban conversion therapy, introducing two new criminal offences for attempts to change the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of anyone under 18.
Today, national Governments and Parliaments in Ireland, Israel, Norway, Denmark and Finland are all actively considering conversion therapy ban legislation, or are in the process of launching consultations.
All LGBTQA+ people deserve to be protected from the lifelong damage inflicted by conversion therapy. But unless we keep pressure on the UK Government, we risk lagging even further behind other countries in the world.