Ban on conversion therapies in Belgium to be adopted in 2023
Belgium could soon take an important step towards equality, tolerance and self-determination, because a decision by the Council of Ministers has paved the way for conversion therapies to become a thing of the past.
This would be an important step that other countries - including Germany - have already taken for some time. In this country, so-called "healing offers" for homosexuals are already prohibited.
The status quo in Belgium is such that it is now up to parliament to wave through the Council of Ministers' decision. The latter has already submitted a corresponding draft law. Or, to put it another way, there is actually already a plan that just needs to be implemented.
Actually, Belgium is very open to queers
The queer community in Belgium has grown more and more over the last few years. At the same time, many changes in the law ensured that people who belong to the scene in the country usually feel very comfortable here.
It is therefore all the more surprising that nothing (or at least not much) has been done so far with regard to conversion therapies.
Interestingly, Belgium is otherwise a country that served as a model for many other countries when it came to legalizing homosexuality or enforcing marriage for all, for example.
It is difficult to explain why conversion therapies have never been tackled before. It is all the more gratifying, however, that the topic is now apparently no longer being excluded.
Among other things, many politicians have already emphasized in this context that it is a sign of freedom to be able to live as one wishes. The protection of the queer community also continues to play an important role in Belgium. One of the goals of the policy is to protect the members of the community. Conversion therapy, after all, is not "just any treatment"; but rather an intervention that repeatedly suggests "You are not good the way you are!" And this is exactly what can exert enormous psychological pressure.
Those offering conversion therapies in Belgium to be punished
... at least that is what the new draft law provides. The whole thing becomes particularly frightening when you consider how the victims of conversion therapy are "treated". Among other things, this involves humiliation, but also physical violence and even rape.
Most people who offer such "treatments" have a very conservative, often religious background. Often the perpetrators even come from their own family.
If the bill is actually passed, many queers in Belgium will breathe a sigh of relief ... among other things because people who - despite the ban - still try to provide therapy face a prison sentence of up to two years. Furthermore, if they are guilty, they will not be allowed to work in the social sector for a period of up to five years.
The threshold that would have to be overcome in order to still perform conversion therapies in Belgium from 2023 onwards would accordingly be significantly higher.
Conversion therapies are already banned in many countries
Especially in the course of the last years, conversion therapies have been banned in more and more countries. However, for the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that there are also different gradations. For Germany, "therapies" of this kind are only prohibited for persons under 18 years of age.
However, those who take their cue from current statements by politicians may have hope that the ban will be made more comprehensive in this country as well in the future.