Belgium prohibits conversion practices, what it means

The destructive practices of conversion, also known as conversion “therapies”, are over in Belgium. Parliament has officially said no.

This Thursday, July 20, the bill to ban conversion practices was passed unanimously, although there was an abstention from Vlaams Belang, the far-right Flemish party. Thanks to this vote in the Chamber, the prohibition of these practices is now written in black and white in Belgian legislation. A relief for associations defending the rights of LGBTQIA + people who have been campaigning for many years.

Conversion practices, what are they?

These conversion practices aim to “combat” the gender identity, gender expression or/and sexual orientation of an LGBTQIA+ person. They are practiced under the guise of being medical, but there is no scientific basis that validates the principle and its effectiveness. The European Parliament estimates that 5% of people in the LGBTQIA+ community have been offered conversion “therapy” and 2% have undergone it. But the institution specifies that these figures are only the visible part of the iceberg of the fact that many of these “therapies” are practiced in the most formal secrecy.

Conversion practices are particularly destructive to victims. During the latter, psychological and sometimes physical violence takes place. It can be electric shocks, isolation, drugs or even “corrective rape”. Often carried out at the request of the family in a sectarian or religious context, these degrading and ineffective practices are genuine gratuitous violence which, once again, is not based on any scientific basis. The consequences for the victims are very real, ranging from depression to suicide.

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