Germany moved a step closer to banning so-called gay “conversion therapies” on Wednesday, as the cabinet backed a law that would punish bogus practitioners with up to a year in prison. Activists hailed the move, saying Germany would become the first major European power to outlaw attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation with techniques including hypnotism and electro-shock treatment.

“Homosexuality is not an illness. So the term therapy in itself is misleading,” Health Minister Jens Spahn – a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats – said in a statement.

The treatments – sometimes carried out by relatives or religious counselors – caused severe mental and physical harm, he added. “This alleged therapy makes you sick and not healthy,” Spahn said.

(Via Reuters)