Metro Weekly

Greece Government Bans Conversion Therapy on Minors

Parliamentary bill makes it illegal to perform conversion therapy on LGBTQ minors without their "explicit consent."

The chamber of the Senate in the Hellenic Parliament (Phtoto: PASOK, via Wikimedia Commons).

As part of its general initiative to better the lives of LGBTQ citizens, the Greek government voted earlier this month to ban the practice of conversion therapy for minors.

The practice of conversion therapy — which is meant “suppress” LGBTQ individuals’ sexual orientation and gender identity — has long been denounced by LGBTQ people around the world as something that causes harm to those subjected to it. Even so, conversion therapy — while not commonly practiced — is still technically legal in many countries. 

Under the new bill approved by the Greek parliament, conversion therapy will be banned, at least for minors, unless a psychologist or other health professional has “explicit consent” from the patient themselves. Health professionals who violate the law could potentially face fines or even serve time in prison, reports Reuters.

According to the Gay Times, the new law also bans advertising conversion therapy practices in Greece as well. LGBTQ advocates have argued that conversion therapy purports to deliver a desired result — the “change” of identity or sexuality — that practitioners cannot guarantee, thus making any advertising claims a form of “fraud.”

“There were some false treatments that stated that when a minor has chosen a different sexual orientation, his parents could supposedly proceed with ‘treatments’ for this child to ‘return to normality'”, Greece’s Health Minister Thanos Plevris stated in his comments to the country’s parliament. “Obviously these treatments not only are not a therapy but they are not supported scientifically.”

This ban on conversion therapy is part of a larger national strategy of pro-LGBTQ reforms in Greece that will “run until 2025” meant to promote gender equality. As part of that strategy, Greece will also be pursuing bans on surgeries of intersex infants and “babies born with atypical chromosomes that affect their reproductive anatomy.” Opponents of such surgeries have likened the practice to torture. 

This conversion therapy ban represents a major step forward for Greece, a relatively conservative country, as they attempt to improve the lives of their LGBTQ citizens. While other European countries—such as the United Kingdom—are facing major backlash for their refusal to commit to conversion therapy bans, Greece would appear to making steady progress on reforms to eliminate anti-LGBTQ practises within the country.

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