Albania becomes third European country to ban traumatising gay conversion therapy

The leading governing body for psychologists in Albania have banned conversion therapy. (GENT SHKULLAKU/AFP via Getty Images)

The governing body for psychologists in Albania banned Saturday the long denounced, discredited and debased practise of conversion therapy to both the surprise and delight of countless LGBT+ activists across the European country.

Albania now joins Malta and Germany in stonewalling the harmful practice, while lawmakers in Spain and the UK are all considering nationwide bans, and Switzerland has a de facto ban.

A statement from the LGBT+ organisation Pink Embassy, seen by AP News, said the decision: “Places the Order of Psychologists in Albania in the forefront of the institutions respecting LGBTI rights.”

Psychologists in Albania now prohibited from conversion therapy, LGBT+ rights group say. 

All registered psychologists in Albania must be members of the Order of Psychologists. As a result, the body’s decisions are “legally valid”, Pink Embassy stressed, and no hurdles loom ahead.

“This is the final decision which does not need to go through either the legislative or executive to enter into force,” said Pink Embassy head Altin Hazizaj.

“Although reports of the use of such therapies in Albania have been small, allowing them has been a serious concern.”

The measure could, activists hope, be one that reinvigorates Albania’s stalled LGBT+ rights movements. Negative attitudes against the community continue to lurk in the conservative country, at times colliding with lawmaker’s urgency in pressing ahead with equality laws.

Marriage, adoption and the right to change legal gender have long been kicked into the long grass by government. The annual Rainbow Map – which ranks European country’s commitment to LGBT+ rights – gave Albania a 31 per cent rating.

Rainbow Map emphasised that gender recognition measures had vastly stagnated in Albania.

What is conversion therapy?

Also called reparative therapy, medical organisations across the world have widely debunked and rejected the treatment as traumatising and psychologically scarring, especially to minors.

The practice, which has been around more than a century, has many techniques. Most commonly, talking therapy.

However, some physicians who practise the therapy are known to use shock treatments and induce associative nausea in patients, according to a 2018 study by the Williams Institute of the School of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.