This article was published on December 14th, 2021
France’s parliament has voted to ban conversion therapy, joining a growing list of countries that have outlawed the widely discredited practice.
The country’s lawmakers voted on Tuesday to ban “practices, behaviors, and repeated statements with the intent of modifying or repressing a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and having the effect of a material alteration to their mental or physical health.” The law does not give religious, medical practitioners, or any other groups exemptions.
French parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly, voted unanimously for the law in October, with the Senate equally approving of the ban (305 to 28) on December 7. The two houses agreed on the bill’s wording on Tuesday.
The legislation now heads to President Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to sign it into law before the end of February 2022, as per the French newspaper, The Connexion.
The bill stipulates that people offering LGBTQ+ conversion therapy could face a two-year jail term and a fine of €30,000 (around $34,000USD). It further states that if the victim is a minor or the violator is a parent or grandparent of the victim, the penalty increases to three years in prison and a €45,000 (around $50,000USD) fine.
The French Equalities minister, Elisabeth Moreno, said on Twitter that she was “very happy” with the legislation’s approval.
“No, being yourself is not a crime,” Moreno, a key member of Macron’s government, tweeted. “No, there is nothing to heal.”
European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, who is gay, lauded members of parliament for passing the bill stating that he was “proud of this agreement.”
If signed into law, France will join a host of other nations with similar laws on the book, including Canada, which approved a ban on December 8. Canada’s Senate and House of Commons unanimously passed the legislation, titled Bill C-4, last month before receiving royal assent on Wednesday. It is set to come into effect from next month.
Malta became the first European country to implement a nationwide ban on conversion therapy in 2016. Germany, Brazil, Albania, and Taiwan have passed similar laws in recent years.
The U.S. has also banned the practice for minors in twenty states. Five states have enforced partial bans on it, while three states cannot impose a ban on the practice due to a federal injunction.
In the U.K., efforts to pass a ban on conversion therapy have faced numerous roadblocks despite Theresa May’s government first promising to make the “abhorrent” practice illegal in 2018. Last week, the government extended its consultation on a ban by a further eight weeks following threats of a legal challenge.
Conversion practices have been denounced and termed “dangerous and traumatic” by leading health and human rights organizations, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization. The practice is widely discredited as a form of torture proven to cause serious harm such as depression, anxiety, internalized shame and stigma, PTSD, and suicide ideation.