by Christian Knuth
61 members of the “LGBTI Intergroup” in the European Parliament have addressed a joint letter to the EU Commission calling for an EU-wide ban on so-called conversion processes (“homo-/trans*healing”).
The letter, which was signed among others by the Vice-President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala and several Vice-Presidents* of the Green and Left Groups, opens with a pragmatic statement:
“Conversion therapies” are torture
This refers to attempts to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity using pseudo-therapeutic methods. This can be attempted through psychological pressure as well as physical means and is clearly considered dangerous and ineffective in medicine. Nevertheless, according to the “International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims”, there are over 69 countries worldwide where such procedures are still legitimately used. In the European Union, for example, in France, the administration of drugs is on record and exorcisms are carried out on lesbians, bisexuals, gays and trans*. In Germany, homo-/trans healing pseudo-therapies have been largely banned since this year.
🇺🇳 So-called « conversion therapy » practices are torture – so say many international bodies and the UN expert on SOGI @victor_madrigal.
— LGBTI Intergroup (@LGBTIintergroup) October 9, 2020
The letter denounces that legalising these procedures would expose queer young people in particular to a high risk of torture, as family members and carers are often behind the “desire for change” and exert pressure on the victims. The independent UN expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) summarised in a report:
- “Conversion therapies” violate the principles of universality, equality and non-discrimination of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”
- So-called “conversion therapies” can constitute torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as recognised by the UN Anti-Torture Organisation
EU needs to act
The European Parliament had already called on the Member States to criminalise “conversion procedures” in 2017. The signatories therefore continue:
“However, since several Member States are not considering adopting such legislation in the near future, and in the absence of a horizontal anti-discrimination directive that would have made discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in health matters illegal, the EC is obliged to act. Given the EU’s shared competence in public health … the European Commission could legislate in this area”.
The letter ends with three questions to the Commission, which are documented here:
Does the Commission condone the practices of so-called “conversion therapies”?
Taking into account the EU’s shared competence in the field of public health and freedom, security and justice, the Commission is responsible for taking action on this issue. Will the Commission initiate a legislative proposal introducing an EU-wide ban on all forms of “conversion therapy” as recommended by the UN independent expert on SOGI?
Should the Commission not intend to initiate legislation, what concrete measures has it taken so far and what action is it taking or is it currently planning to take to help Member States ban this practice? Does it actively promote national bans which have already been adopted as best practice in other Member States?
- 1500×500: by: LGBTIintergroup / EU Parlament
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