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HEALTH

Germany plans fines up to €30,000 in gay ‘conversion therapy’ ban

The German government on Wednesday signed off on a new law banning "conversion therapies" designed to force heterosexuality on homosexuals.

Germany plans fines up to €30,000 in gay 'conversion therapy' ban
Photo: DPA

The legislation, set to be introduced next year, would see the practice made punishable with up to a year in prison and fines of up to €30,000.

“Homosexuality is not an illness, so the word 'therapy' is misleading,” said health minister Jens Spahn, the architect of the law.

Once it is approved, Germany – where there are an estimated 1,000 attempts a year to “re-educate” gay people — would be only the second European country with such a ban after Malta passed similar legislation in 2016.

Spahn said that he wanted the ban to be as far-reaching as possible, adding that the so-called therapies often caused “severe physical and psychological damage”.

“A ban is also an important sign for all those struggling with their sexuality: it is ok to be as you are,” said the health Minister.

READ ALSO: 'Homosexuality is not an illness': Germans plans to ban conversion therapy

Jens Spahn. Photo: DPA

Aside from prison sentences for practitioners, the new law will impose fines for those offering or advertising “conversion” practices.

It could also potentially make parents and teachers liable if they are ruled to have neglected their duty of care.

So-called conversion therapies for minors will be outlawed entirely, while those for adults will be illegal if carried out against the will of the subject, for example with the use of force or threats.

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 March 2018, the European parliament passed a resolution condemning the practice and urging member states to ban it.

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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