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Norway considers enforcing ban on conversion therapy

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Norway considers enforcing ban on conversion therapy
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg. File photo: AFP
13:24 CET+01:00
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said she thinks a ban on so-called conversion therapy should be considered by lawmakers.

In an interview with newspaper Dagbladet, Solberg said conversion therapy could potentially be banned under existing law.

Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of an LGBTQ+ person through psychological or spiritual intervention.

No reliable evidence exists that sexual orientation can be changed, while medical bodies have warned that conversion therapy practices are potentially harmful.

“It is painful to see how hard (conversion therapy) is for people who believe in God, but who are made to think that ‘God does not believe in you’. There are parts of this therapy that would be prohibited in principle under current legislation,” Solberg told Dagbladet.

Solberg’s Conservative party has stated in parliament that it supports looking into the viability of a ban.

“It is horrible to subject people to some aspects of this [conversion therapy, ed.]. So an investigation such as the one now being discussed at parliament is a good idea, because this is a complicated matter,” Solberg said.

She added that a ban could be difficult to implement in practice, and that at different aspects of this issue must be looked at “a little deeper".

Debate about conversion therapy in Norway come to the fore after the Labour Party proposed a ban.

Conservative party members of the parliamentary Family and Cultural Committee (familie- og kulturkomiteen) have said that they want to consider a ban. Newspaper VG reports an overall parliamentary majority in favour.

But Kjell Inge Ropstad, leader of coalition partner the Christian Democrats, said such a ban is not needed, however.

“I think it is unnecessary, because this is already regulated today. That is (our) approach”, the party leader, who is also Minister of Children and Families, told news agency NTB last week.

“A lot of this is already prohibited, it is either medical quackery or simply abuse,” Ropstad said.

The Family and Cultural Committee has until December 3rd to submit its response to Labour’s proposal for a ban.

The opposition party has signalled that it will vote secondarily for an investigation if there is no majority for an outright ban, NTB reports.

READ ALSO: Is it difficult to be gay in the Norwegian workplace?

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