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Councillors, advocates criticise Swiss government’s refusal to ban ‘gay conversion therapy’

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Councillors, advocates criticise Swiss government’s refusal to ban ‘gay conversion therapy’
16:01 CEST+02:00
Councillors from the city of Basel, as well as representatives from the National Council, have spoken out against the Federal Council for its refusal to put in place laws that would restrict ‘gay conversion therapy’.

Despite gay conversion therapy being heavily criticised by advocacy groups and outlawed in some parts of the world, the LGBTIQ Pink Cross Switzerland organisation says that it is “common” in Switzerland. 

The Federal Council has however stated that it opposes a ban, arguing that the current laws are sufficient to protect people from all types of alternate therapies. 

Lucas Ott, a representative in the City of Basel, told the BZ Basel newspaper that banning conversion therapy would send an important message throughout the country. 

"A ban would push the authorities to investigate certain cases and would make possible sanctions that do not exist today.” 

Gay conversion therapy, long linked to depression and a range of other mental health issues, has been used by church groups and other organisations to encourage homosexual people to ‘convert’ to heterosexuality. 

In many cases, the practice is described as aiming to ‘cure’ gay people of their homosexuality and dates back to a time when homosexuality was thought of as a disease.

READ: Germany plans to ban gay conversion therapy

One such practitioner - who operates as a self-described ‘gay healer’ in the canton of Schwyz - does so pursuant to a professional licence. Campaigners have petitioned the canton government to revoke his accreditation. 

Roman Heggli, a spokesperson for the LGBTIQ Pink Cross, said that a ban would counter the notion that there is something ‘wrong’ with gay people. 

“"I am shocked that the Federal Council still does not see the need to act,"  

"Especially for parents who are planning to send their child to such therapy because they know they are doing something wrong," he says.

Despite Switzerland being one of the first countries to legalise same-sex acts between consenting adults - doing so in 1942 - there are still a number of areas in which same-sex couples do not have equal rights to heterosexual couples. 

Same-sex couples are not permitted to marry in Switzerland, while there are also restrictions on adoption and IVF access. 




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