The controversial practice of aiming to convert gays and lesbians to become heterosexual should be made illegal in Belgium, according to the federal secretary of state for equal opportunities, Zuhal Demir (N-VA). According to the minister (pictured), Belgium does not have legislation relating to the question, unlike countries like Switzerland and Malta. “I am working on it,” she told news agency Belga.
The so-called conversion therapy takes the position that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, and that gay people can be “treated” to cure them of the condition – in contrast to the vast consensus of scientific opinion which takes the position that gays are born and not made.
The existing legislation is not sufficient to make those who advocate conversion therapy punishable by law, Demir said. “Homosexuals are not sick and so do not have to be cured,” she said. And she referred to the recent case of a lesbian girl, Leyla Achichi, who was tortured over the course of four days by an “exorcist” brought in by her parents. “The court case took account of the torture,” Demir pointed out. “But not of the homophobia. The new law will cover that sort of eventuality.”
The minister now intends to present her proposed new law to the Muslim executive as well as other faith communities for comments, before bringing it before parliament.