The bill criminalising conversion therapies for LGBTQI+ people is expected to be postponed on Thursday as far-right party Elam filed an amendment to allow such pseudo-treatments to go ahead if an individual agrees to it.
Following two years of discussion on the proposal submitted by Akel MP Giorgos Koukoumas at the House legal affairs committee, the bill is to be submitted to plenum on Thursday. However, Elam will request for this bill to be pushed back so MPs can have additional time to discuss and further clarify some points.
Elam MP Soteris Ioannou said the far-right party has filed an amendment to the bill last week providing for the need to include the concept of consent in these “treatments”. This, he told Alpha TV, will allow those who wish to proceed with them to do so without getting the person who is trying to advise them in trouble.
This might be a priest or a relative, Ioannou said, noting that human relationships within the family should not be stigmatised in the context of investigations.
As for trans people, he said “we disagree with this logic. It is not possible to be whatever one says. If tomorrow I say that I feel like a penguin, then am I penguin?”
The possibility to exclude priests from the penalties provided in the bill will also be examined, the Elam MP said.
Koukoumas clarified that LGBTQI+ people are not sick nor should they be healed. “Anyone who tries to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and so on, in any way, with wishes, prayers, hormone therapies… is abusive,” he said.
Echoing his statements, Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou said “the concept of consent is not compatible” with this legislation and should not be included in the bill.
She cited an example of a child who when he first told his parents about his sexual orientation they took him to a psychologist “to get fixed” saying he was young and just experimenting.
Under the current proposal, a person who applies a practice or technique or provides a service with the purpose of changing, suppressing or eliminating the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of another person is guilty of an offence and, upon conviction, is liable to two years in prison, a fine of up to €5,000 or both.
If this practice concerns a minor or a person in a vulnerable situation, the court may impose a prison sentence up to three years or a fine up to €10,000 or both.
A penalty is also provided for guardians of those referred for ‘treatment’. If convicted, such a person is liable to up to three years in jail or a fine not exceeding €10,000, or both.
Meanwhile, a person who announces or advertises, even covertly, such a practice, would face up to two years in prison or a fine up to €5,000, or both sentences combined.
Conversion therapies, defined by the UN as torture, have been banned in several EU member states, such as Malta, Germany, France and more recently Greece while others have proposed their ban. Homosexuality was declassified as a pathology or a disease by the World Health Organisation in 1990 and transsexuality in 2019.