SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

‘Homosexuality is not an illness’: Germany plans to ban conversion therapy

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Tuesday he plans to write a law this year to ban so-called conversion therapies that aim to make gays and lesbians heterosexual.

'Homosexuality is not an illness': Germany plans to ban conversion therapy
Health Minister Jens Spahn at a press conference on Monday. Photo: DPA

“My position is clear: homosexuality is not an illness, which is why it does not need to be treated,” said Spahn, who is gay and married to a man.

“I would very much like to have a bill this year that could then be presented to parliament,” he told a Berlin press conference.

READ ALSO: Germany joins push to ban gay conversion therapies

Medical experts consider psychological or spiritual interventions to change someone's sexual orientation pseudo-scientific, ineffective and often harmful.

The most controversial techniques involve administering electric shocks as subjects view images of homosexual acts, or injections of the male hormone testosterone.

In Germany, there are an estimated 1,000 attempts a year to “re-educate” homosexuals – from family members, “coaches” and therapists, and sometimes involving prayers and even exorcisms, said Jörg Litwinschuh-Barthel of the anti-discrimination Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation.

Germany's LGBT community, which has long been calling for a ban, welcomed Spahn's announcement.

“This ban would, of course, be a signal to the people who propose (conversion therapies), but also to those affected who will know: 'what is being done to me is wrong',” said Markus Ulreich, a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD).

Early last year the European Parliament adopted a non-binding text that called on EU members to ban the practice, something that so far only Malta and some Spanish regions have done.

READ ALSO: German priest calls homosexuality a sickness

Ban is possible

Spahn has commissioned two reports and a 46-member expert panel which have concluded that a ban is both “medically necessary and legally possible,” his ministry said.

Several people who underwent such therapies testified about their suffering to the panel, said the ministry in a statement.

One gay patient reported how during standard psychotherapy, the doctor suddenly declared sexual conversion a “therapy goal” and pursued it through “indoctrinating conversations”.

When electric shock treatment was also proposed, the patient terminated the treatment.

The health ministry said it plans to release a final report in August, to pave the way for a law to be written before the end of the year.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

GERMAN LANGUAGE

Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Germany

It’s that time of year again when many of us will be coughing and blowing our noses. If you're feeling a bit under the weather, here are the German words you'll need and some tips on what to do.

Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Germany

Corona – In German, Covid is most commonly called Corona. Self-isolation and quarantine (Quarantänepflicht) rules currently vary from state to state, but if you test positive for Covid, you’ll generally have to isolate for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10. 

READ ALSO: Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of ‘difficult’ winter

Eine Erkältung – this is the German term for a common cold. You can tell people “I have a cold” by saying either saying: ich habe eine Erkältung or ich bin erkältet.

A cold usually involves eine laufende Nase – a runny nose – so make sure you have a good supply of Taschentücher (pocket tissues) at home.

If you have a verstopfte Nase (blocked nose) you can buy a simple nasal spray (Nasenspray) from your local drugstore. 

But in Germany, because only pharmacies are able to sell medicines, you will need to pay a visit to die Apotheke if you want to get anything stronger.

READ ALSO: Why are medicines in Germany only available in pharmacies?

At the pharmacy, the pharmacist will usually need you to describe your symptoms, by asking you: Welche Symptome haben Sie?

A woman with a cold visits a pharmacy.

A woman with a cold visits a pharmacy. Photo: pa/obs/BPI | Shutterstock / Nestor Rizhniak

If it’s a cold you’re suffering from, you may have Halsschmerzen or Halsweh (sore throat), Kopfschmerzen (headache) or Husten (cough).

For a sore throat, you might be given Halstabletten or Halsbonbon (throat lozenges).

If you’re buying cough medicine you will probably be asked if you have a dry, chesty cough – Reizhusten – or if it is a produktiver Husten (wet, productive cough).

If you have one of these you may need some Hustensaft or Hustensirup (cough medicine). If you have a headache, you may also want to pick up a packet of Ibuprofen.

While selecting your Medikamente (medication), the pharmacist might ask you a couple of questions, such as:

Sind Sie mit diesen Medikamenten vertraut?

Are you familiar with this medication?

Haben Sie irgendwelche Unverträglichkeiten?

Do you have any intolerances?

They will also tell you about any Nebenwirkungen (side effects) the medicine could have.

Die Grippe – if you’ve struck down with a more serious illness, it’s likely to be die Grippe – the flu.

Flu symptoms usually include Fieber (fever), Schüttelfrost (chills), Gliederschmerzen (muscle aches), Schmerzen (aches) and Appetitlosigkeit (loss of appetite). While both Erkältungen and Grippe are very ansteckend (contagious), flu is usually more debilitating and might require a visit to the doctor.

However, as the pandemic is still with us, many German doctors’ surgeries (Arztpraxen) still ask patients to stay away or come in during special hours if they have cold or flu symptoms. 

But if you need a sick note (eine AU-Bescheinigung) and are suffering from mild respiratory diseases, you can get this over the phone, until at least November 30th, 2022.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

If you are really unwell, however, you will need to go to the doctor at some point to get ein Rezept – a prescription. More serious cold and flu-related illnesses (Krankheiten) often involve Entzündungen (inflammations), which are often schmerzhaft (painful) and cause Rötung (redness).

Common inflammations include Nebenhöhlenentzündung (sinusitis), Bronchitis (bronchitis) and Mandelentzündung (tonsillitis).

SHOW COMMENTS