The Belgian parliament agrees to criminalize therapies to change or remove a person’s sexual orientation or identity. Those found guilty of “conversion practices” or “gay healing” risk jail time or a fine.
If the crime took place in a professional context, a Belgian judge can impose a professional ban of up to five years. In addition, the court can decide to impose a prison sentence of eight days to two years or a fine of up to 2,400 euros.
Offering or inducing conversion therapy will also become a criminal offence. How to advertise it.
Belgium is not the first European country where conversion therapy is banned. For example, it is also banned in France, Spain, Germany, Austria and Malta.
Wat is ‘homogenezing’?
- Bij zogenoemde conversietherapie wordt bijvoorbeeld met gebedssessies en duiveluitdrijving geprobeerd mensen te ‘genezen’ van hun geaardheid. Iets wat helemaal niet kan. Dit zou geberurt vooral bij clubs die verbonden zijn aan streng christelijke stromingen.
- Betrokkenen kunnen bij dit soort therapieën psychisch onder druk worden gezet, of ziekmakende medicijnen of elektrische schokken toegediend krijgen als zij reageren op homo-erotische afbeeldingen.
Council of State advises against criminalization in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, VVD, D66, PvdA, GroenLinks, SP and Party for the Animals also wanted “gay healing” to become a criminal offense in the Netherlands by 2022. However, the Council of State – which issued an opinion on this in 2023 – was critical of this. The Council said it “gets it”, but sees no reason to change the code.
According to the Council Are there other grounds on which a person who offers conversion therapy can be punished? For example, for assault or coercion. This is why the Council considered that the bill added nothing to what is already possible.
The Council also pointed out – as stated by the initiators themselves – that some people want conversion therapy themselves. Although the Council added that it is difficult to test the voluntariness of the therapy.
The Council also mentioned that people who practice “gay healing” can invoke their freedom of religion. Finally, the Council said the law has yet to be prosecuted in Germany and Malta, for example. The reason is that the law cannot be enforced.
The latter also emerged in an exploratory study by a previous cabinet, after a parliamentary majority in 2019 also wanted a ban. A ban would above all have a symbolic value, would be difficult to apply and difficult to integrate into the code of the law.
The Netherlands at the bottom of the LGBTQ+ ranking
Rulings like these ensure that the Netherlands slides lower in the European ranking that compares legislation and policy to protect LGBTQ+ people. This is mainly due to other countries introducing new rules and measures and the Netherlands being at a standstill.
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