Ban on gay conversion therapy will have great symbolic value: researchers
A ban on gay conversion therapies will have great symbolic value, researchers said in a report sent to the lower house of the Dutch parliament on Monday. Enforcing such a ban will be difficult, but victims will benefit from knowing that the government is behind them. The Cabinet wanted to know what steps it could take to combat gay conversion therapy.
These treatments are controversial and non-scientific. Victims are given things like electric shocks or drugs that make them sick if they react to homoerotic images. They can also be put under psychological pressure.
A ban on gay conversion therapy in all its forms is "difficult to capture in a single legal text," according to research by the Vrije Universiteit and Regioplan. According to the researchers, it is, therefore, necessary to ensure a culture change. They suggest, for example, providing neutral information and involving both religious and non-religious organizations in combating conversion therapy. A support center can also help.
However, the researchers do point out that conversion therapies mainly take place in closed communities, out of the view of the government. A ban could aggravate that problem. "Providers who are sensitive to conspiracy theories and end-times thinking" can, thanks to a ban, turn even further from the government and withdraw more. The experts, therefore, mainly advocate a "softer approach" aimed at "change from within."
According to the researchers, a good approach to gay conversion therapy requires investment and time, but that is no reason not to take immediate measures. According to many experts, long-term culture change is "the most suitable strategy," the report said. The greatest effect is achieved if not one but several well-coordinated measures are taken at the same time.
The Cabinet plans to respond to the study in the summer, Ministers Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education), Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius (Justice and Security), and Hanke Bruins Slot (Home Affairs) wrote in a letter to parliament.
The D66 and VVD presented a private member's bill in February to criminalize gay conversion therapy. They would set a fine of 22,5000 euros or one year in prison for the practice. The PvdA, GroenLinks, PvdD, and SP supported the proposal. It also has majority support in the Senate.
Reporting by ANP