New conversion therapy ban in Iceland affects Religious Freedom of parents
In line with other European countries, Iceland has approved a ban on conversion therapies for 'sexual orientation,' 'gender expression' and 'gender identity.' The problem arises from the redaction of the new law, that restricts freedom of religion and parental choice. The law does not specify what is considered "conversion therapy", which could lead to the criminalization of harmless spiritual counseling by parents or fellow believers.
As has been the case in recently passed legislation in other European countries, the new Icelandic ban on conversion therapies does not define or distinguish between different types of 'therapy'. This leads to situations where a harmless help or assistance, for example spiritual counselling, could be considered a 'therapy' and be outlawed. This not only affects religious freedom but also parents' right to educate their children according to their beliefs.
The bill passed on June 9 by the Icelandic Parliament bans "any type of therapy aimed at changing or discouraging someone's identity." Individuals' capacity for self-determination is not affected like in other similar legislation, as the bill punishes practices performed "through coercion, deception or threats." Nonetheless, it also punishes "anyone who subjects a child under the age of 18 to the treatment" with prison time for up to 5 years, which violates parents' rights.