In late October, the UK Government launched a consultation on banning conversion therapy in England and Wales. But across the world, many places already have bans in place. In fact, there are 13 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. The following year, in 2000, Norway banned registered psychiatrists from practising conversion therapy on their patients.
Jumping ahead to 2007, Samoa banned registered health professionals from practising conversion therapy. Argentina and Fiji followed suit in 2010, followed by Taiwan in 2018 – with the latter introducing a criminal ban for health practitioners. Similarly, in 2017, Uruguay implemented a ban on conversion therapy in mental health law, and Albania implemented a ban covering members of their national psychological association.
Several countries have introduced criminal bans for those found to be practising conversion therapy, including Ecuador in 2014 and Malta in 2016. Also in 2016, Switzerland implemented a ban which can be determined as criminal by the Federal Council.
In 2019, Germany banned conversion therapy for minors, as well as protecting adults undergoing conversion therapy because of force, fraud or pressure.
When it comes to provinces, regions and territories, Canada, Spain and Australia continue to make progress. Bans for minors are already in place across several Canadian territories – namely Ontario and Manitoba in 2015, Nova Scotia in 2018, and Prince Edward Island, Quebec Provinces and Yukon Territory in 2020.
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. In 2020, Queensland State in Australia made conversion therapy a criminal offence, and followed by Victoria in 2021. And between 2013 and 2020, bans of varying forms have been implemented across 20 states, two territories, and multiple local counties or municipalities in the United States.
Earlier this year, Chile introduced a medical ban, and in India, the Madras High Court issued directives to prohibit conversion therapy in India.
Today, national Governments and Parliaments in Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Norway, Denmark, Finland and France are all actively considering conversion therapy ban legislation, or are in the process of launching consultations.
All LGBTQIA+ 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.