Mexican Lawmakers Urged to Oppose Bill Criminalizing ‘Conversion Therapy’

The bill was discussed during an ordinary session Dec. 5.

Therapy session.
Therapy session. (photo: Image of Freepik)

More than 170 civil society organizations, led by the National Front for the Family and the Citizens’ Initiative for Life and Family, are calling on the political parties represented in the federal Chamber of Deputies (lower house) in Mexico to oppose a bill that seeks to “criminalize” so-called “conversion therapy” for persons with unwanted same-sex attraction.

In a letter addressed to the presidents and coordinators of the political parties that have a presence in the Chamber of Deputies, the organizations denounced the attempt to criminalize any person “for proposing any therapy, support, accompaniment, guide, or orientation; by creating new crimes against ‘gender confusion.’”

The proposal, which seeks to amend the Federal Penal Code and the General Law on Health, calls for significant penalties, including prison sentences and fines that could exceed 207,000 Mexican pesos (about $11,800) for those who offer or perform such therapy.

According to the bill, so-called “conversion therapy” would be classified as “crimes against people’s sexual orientation or gender identity” and would penalize any person who “performs, imparts, applies, forces, or finances any type of of treatment, therapy, service, or practice that hinders, restricts, impedes, undermines, nullifies, or suppresses the sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression of a person.”

The bill also states that the parents or guardians of people “who engage in the penalized conduct will be subject to being sanctioned with a reprimand or warning at the discretion of the judge.”

The pro-family civil society organizations expressed their concern about the “ambiguity” in the wording of the initiative, pointing out that terms such as “any practice” and expressions such as “hinder, restrict, impede, undermine, annul, or suppress” are “extremely subjective and ambiguous,” which could lead to indiscriminate interpretations.

“With a simple complaint from someone who subjectively believes that their sexual orientation, identity, or gender expression is being ‘hindered, restricted, impeded, undermined, nullified, or suppressed,’” any citizen could get two to 24 years in prison, the organizations warned.

If the bill is passed, they pointed out, “Mexico would be turned into the country with the least respect for fundamental freedoms, since a regime of terror would be installed contrary to health care workers’ [freedom to]  exercise their profession, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and academic freedom.”

The bill is expected to be discussed during an ordinary session Dec. 5.

What is ‘Conversion Therapy’?

Commonly understood, “conversion therapy” encompasses both a series of psychological and scientific practices as well as religious methods that come, for the most part, from the American Protestant world and are based on evangelical anthropology, which is very different from Catholic anthropology.

However, the LGBT community often uses the term “conversion therapy” to denigrate and criminalize any form of help, even psychological, for people with same-sex attraction.

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