A rainbow flag hangs in front of a government building in Berlin, Germany. Wednesday, the government banned "conversion therapies" for persons under the age of 18. File Photo by Felipe Trueba/EPA-EFE
Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The German government on Wednesday barred so-called "conversion therapies" intended to "cure" homosexuality, for persons under the age of 18.
The Bill to Protect against Conversion Therapies punishes violators with up to a year in prison or a fine up to $33,000.
The law applies to conversion therapies for minors in general, as well as those of legal age whose consent was obtained without their volition, such as through coercion, threat, deception or error.
The measure will take effect in mid-2020 and does not require the approval of Germany's federal states.
"Homosexuality isn't a disease. That's why the term therapy is misleading," German Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a statement. "We want to ban so-called conversion therapies as far as possible. Wherever they're carried out, they often cause serious physical and mental suffering."
Gabriela Luensmann of Germany's Lesbian and Gay Association welcomed the law, but cautioned it doesn't go far enough to protect vulnerable young adults.
"Young people in the age group between 18 and 26 years often have a comparable need for protection as minors, especially with regard to coming-out processes and family dependencies," she said.
Conversion therapy can cause depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts, medical experts said in an August report in the New England Journal of Medicine that called for banning such procedures in the United States.
Eighteen U.S. states have already banned conversion therapy for minors, but none apply to legal adults.