A new bill being introduced to Parliament hopes to ban the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” in Iceland, Fréttablaðið reports.
For the unfamiliar, conversion therapy is a deliberate attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. This is typically conducted under the guise of religious organisations, but not always.
However, it is widely regarded as a form of abuse by numerous authorities, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and many others. As such, conversion therapy is already banned in a lot of countries, and several US states.
Iceland is not yet one of the countries that have banned conversion therapy, but Reform Party MP Hanna Katrín Friðriksson, and several other parliamentarians from five different parties–the Reform Party, along with the Pirate Party, the Social Democrats, the Left-Greens and the People’s Party–hope to do so.
“This treatment, which is based on the idea that it is possible to ‘cure’ the natural sexual orientation or gender identity of people, is far from being supported by scientific study, and is simply ethically wrong, no matter how you look at it,” Hanna Kristín said. “Conversion therapy has caused countless harmful effects, both in physical and mental health, on people who have been forced to undergo it.”
While rare in Iceland, conversion therapy has been practiced here, notably by conservative Christian groups. If this bill is passed into law, anyone who makes an adult undergo conversion therapy could face up to three years in prison, or five years in prison if they made a child undergo it. Those who conduct conversion therapy could face up to two years in prison.
While there is as yet no one from the Independence Party, the Progressive Party, or the Centre Party supporting the bill, Hanna is hopeful the bill will received widespread support.
“Conversion therapy of queer people is based purely on ignorance and reactionary ideas,” Hanna said. “And it has no place in our society.”
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