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Gay conversion therapy banned in Swiss canton of Valais 

Two pairs of feet are shown, clad in sneakers and rainbow socks.
More colour, less conversion: Valais is the latest canton to say no to the controversial therapies. Keystone

On Thursday, the cantonal parliament approved a new Health Act which includes a ban on therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation or gender identity. 

After examining around forty amendments, the council’s members finally approved the bill by 106 votes to 21. All political groups, with the exception of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, were satisfied with the outcome. 

Conversion therapies are considered “discriminatory, cruel, inhumane and degrading by the United Nations”, said Mathias Reynard, head of the canton Valais Department of Health. 

The Centre Party meanwhile supported the ban, but said it would have preferred the issue to be “settled at national level”. The Swiss People’s Party, for its part, felt that this article of the law, concerning a practice which is marginal or even “non-existent” in Valais, had no place in the law on health.

+ Read more: gay conversion therapies continue to take their toll in Switzerland

Reynard pointed out that the ban came in response to a motion that had been widely accepted by the cantonal parliament. Today, “we are sending out a clear signal that these conversion therapies are unacceptable and have no place in Valais”, he added. 

Valais is thus following in the footsteps of several cantons, including Neuchâtel – which banned conversion therapies in 2023 – as well as Vaud and Geneva, which are in the process of doing so.

At the national level, the House of Representatives approved a motion along these lines in December 2022; the Senate has yet to give its opinion.

Adapted from French by DeepL/kc,dos

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