Belgium plans to ban conversion therapy practices for all LGBTQ+ people, including the trans and gender diverse community.
Belgium has announced new legislation that plans to ban the horrific and inhumane practices of conversion therapy for all LGBTQ+ people.
Conversion therapy is the attempt to change or ‘revert’ queer and trans people back to cis-heteronormativity through inhuman practices. This presumed ‘cure’ can even involve electroshock therapy or prayer. It has been widely condemned by health experts all over the world. It’s simple: ban conversion therapy everywhere.
Belgium to Follow Through on New Ban
Sarah Schlitz, the State Secretary for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, was the one who made the announcement. Schlitz stated that ‘Belgium is a pioneer in the field of LGBTQ rights’.
Belgium has also planned to introduce the gender marker ‘X’ on ID cards. This would ensure that non-binary citizens do not have to use male or female gender markers on their ID cards.
The entire LGBTQ+ community, including trans people, should have the freedom to be themselves and the right to live as who they are without facing harm and danger. Schlitz stated that she believes it to be a ‘fundamental principle of our society that must not be compromised under any circumstances’.
Belgium will now add a fine of €100 to €300 for carrying out conversion therapy practices. The crime can also be punishable by a one month to two years imprisonment. The various punishments will depend on whether it was committed by an individual person in a position of authority and power and whether the crime was committed against a vulnerable person, such as a minor.
Lack of Trans-Inclusion in UK Ban
This news could not come sooner given the current lack of trans inclusion in the UK’s conversion therapy ban.
In April of 2022, the UK finally decided to ban conversion therapy for people on the basis of sexual orientation. However, the ban excludes trans and non-binary people as well as LGBTQ+ people under the age of 18.
There have been protests in London against this transphobic exclusion. Sadly, the current minister for women and equalities, Kemi Badenoch, has paused the conversion therapy ban in the UK, pending further review. The British government should take an example from Belgium and widen their ban to include all people from the LGBTQ+ community.
The UK’s Government’s National LGBT Survey found that 13% of trans people were offered or went through conversion therapy. This number is almost twice as high as that of other LGBTQ+ group (7%).
If you live in the UK, make sure to email your MP to ban conversion therapy for ALL.
We need to ban conversion therapy as its practices are barbaric and have no place in this world.
While it is a moment of joy and to celebrate a win for the trans community, it is also the bare minimum a country can do to protect its citizens – a bare minimum that many other countries fall short in delivering.