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APN Podcast: Is it time for Finland to ban conversion therapy?

This week APN opens up a citizens’ initiative at the heart of a second attempt to ban conversion therapy in Finland.

Photo shows the silhouette of an unidentified woman.
APN hears from a survivor of conversion therapy.
Yle News

This week All Points North hears about a citizens’ initiative calling for the criminalisation of conversion therapy which is set to go before lawmakers in Finland for a second time this year.

Conversion therapy is defined as the practice of attempting to cause a non-heterosexual person to become heterosexual by using methods including spiritual counselling, psychoanalysis, and behaviour modification.

The initiative has been piloted by people familiar with the controversial practice and initially gathered sufficient support to go to Parliament during the previous administration, but the then-government never got the chance to consider it as the initiative expired when the parliamentary term ended.

This time around, one of the organisers of the initiative, Julia Peltonen, editor of the LGBTQ+ magazine Kehrääjä, told APN that Petteri Orpo’s (NCP) future government won’t be able to say it ran out of time, because it will be on the table from the get-go.

"Every week, every month, every year that we postpone this, the more we wait, the more people get hurt and the hurt that this leaves is usually for life. It might get better with therapy and stuff, but it's not going to go away on its own. So, especially to us who have been through this, we don't want anyone else to go through it. And that's where the urgency comes from," Peltonen told APN.

Listen to the episode via this embedded player, on Yle Areena or via Spotify

Should Finland ban conversion therapy?

Peltonen noted that currently it is difficult for authorities to intervene in reports of conversion therapy because there are no laws against it.

She added that police cannot investigate suspected cases since charges cannot be based on the legal code, and she further noted that criminalisation would empower the authorities to step in when wrongdoing occurs.

Closing a controversial consulate

APN also reports on another citizens’ initiative, this time one calling for the closure of the Russian consulate in the autonomous, demilitarised Åland islands in the Finnish archipelago.

The petition, which says the presence of the consulate "limits and restricts Finland’s safety", has so far gathered roughly 36,000 of the 50,000 signatures needed to go before Parliament.

APN spoke with Joel Linnainmäki, a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, who said that politically the time may be ripe for Finland to withdraw from the treaty that established the consulate in the autonomous territory.

"People think that now with our Nato membership and with Russia invading Ukraine last year, the moment is right to withdraw from the treaty and remove this historic black moment from our history, and to move on from this history with the Soviet Union, and to write our own future," Linnainmäki said.

Join the conversation!

This week's show was presented by Ronan Browne and Denise Wall. The sound engineer was Panu Willman.

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