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The new legislation establishes that those who advise or perform these practices will face a prison sentence and community work.
This past Friday, July 24, in a plenary session, the Congress of Mexico City approved the opinion presented by the United Commissions of Administration and Procurement of Justice, and Human Rights, to reform the Penal Code of the Federal District in order to criminalize conversion therapies that hinder the free development of sexual identity and personality. In this way, anyone who performs or forces another to take psychological or psychiatric sessions, methods or treatments with this aim, will face penalties of 2 to 5 years in prison and 50 to 100 hours of community work.
These practices are also known under the name of Efforts to Correct Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (ECOSIG in its Spanish acronym) and according to the World Health Organization, they are present in more than 68 countries.
#SesiónExtraordinaria |El pleno del #CongresoCDMX aprueba 49 votos a favor, 9 en contra y 5 abstenciones, las reformas al Código Penal DF para tipificar como delito las #TerapiasDeConversión o #Ecosig que atenten contra el libre desarrollo de la personalidad e identidad sexual. pic.twitter.com/YDQB20Xlfw
— Congreso de la Ciudad de México (@Congreso_CdMex) July 24, 2020
The reform was approved with 49 votes in favor, 9 against, and 5 abstentions. In the next few hours, public figures expressed their agreement with the resolution. Jacqueline L’Hoist, founder of the Council to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination in Mexico City posted on her Twitter account: “Fortunately, freedom and respect won. There’s nothing to cure”.
For her part, Claudia Sheinbaum, Head of Government of Mexico City, declared that “conversion therapy is a practice from the Inquisition. They do not represent the freedom of this city”.
In contrast, the leaders of the National Front for the Family social movement issued a press release stating that “by approving this legislation, the Congress made a serious mistake preventing the work of hundreds of thousands of psychologists by labeling as harmful. What they are doing is taking away from someone the right of exploring the change of his sexual conduct to meet his biological identity.
Regarding this argument, international health organizations have pointed out for several years the lack of scientific basis to endorse these practices. In 2012, the Pan American Health Organization noted that “conversion therapies lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and human rights of people concerned.” Four years later, the World Psychiatric Association determined that “there is no solid scientific evidence to indicate that innate sexual orientation can be changed.”