On Thursday, the country’s parliament approved a ban of so-called conversion therapies — which claim to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or identity — for minors, and for adults who have been forced, threatened or deceived to undergo the controversial treatment.
So-called conversion therapies, also known as reparative treatments, rely on the assumption that sexual orientation can be changed or “cured” — an idea debunked and discredited by major medical associations in the UK, the United States and elsewhere.
Under the ban, advertising the intervention to young people is also outlawed, and those in breach of the law will face fines or a jail sentence of up to a year.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the ban was an “important signal from society for all those who are unsure about their homosexuality.”
“Homosexuality is not a disease. Therefore the name therapy alone is misleading,” Spahn said in a statement.
“This so-called therapy makes people sick and not better. The ban is also an important signal from society to all those who are unsure about their homosexuality: It is okay to be the way you are,” he added.
Studies have found that efforts to change a young person’s sexuality can put them at a greater risk of depression or suicide.
Despite being condemned by medical bodies and having its science debunked by experts worldwide, the practice is legal throughout most of Europe, where campaigns and petitions to halt it exist in several countries.
CNN’s Rob Picheta and Jamie Ehrlich contributed to this story.