France bans barbaric conversion therapy without any exemptions while UK dithers and delays

France has passed a sweeping ban on conversion therapy, with lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum agreeing on the bill’s wording.

The bill, voted in on Tuesday, bans all “practices, behaviours, 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 gives no exemptions for religious conversion therapy

The National Assembly, the French parliament’s lower house, voted unanimously for the law in October, while the senate voted 305 to 28 in favour of the ban on 7 December. The two houses finally agreed on the bill’s wording on Tuesday. 

The law now has to be formally approved by president Emmanuel Macron. Once Macron signs the bill, it should be introduced by the end of February 2022, according to the Connexion.

France passes sweeping conversion therapy ban

People attending the 2021 Pride Parade in Paris, France (Adrien Fillon/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Conversion therapy will now carry a potential penalty of two years in prison and €30,000 (around £25,000) in fines. If the victim is a minor, or otherwise considered “vulnerable”, or the person practicing conversion therapy is a parent or grandparent of the victim, the punishment increases to three years in prison and a €45,000 (around £38,000) fine. 

Medical professionals found guilty of conversion therapy could have their medical licence stripped for ten years. 

The minister of equality between women and men, Elisabeth Moreno, said: “Being oneself isn’t a crime… No, homosexuality and trans identity aren’t sicknesses that can be cured. No, there is nothing to cure.”

France’s health minister Olivier Véran described conversion therapies as “deplorable”, saying “they cause terrible suffering”.

He wrote on Twitter that the practices are “quackery” alongside the hashtag “RienÀGuérir” (“nothing to cure”).

In 2016, Malta became the first European country to ban conversion therapy. Germany, Albania, Brazil and Taiwan have all passed such a ban in recent years.

The UK still has not passed a ban on conversion therapy, despite Theresa May’s government first promising to outlaw the barbaric practice in 2018.

A conversion therapy ban was promised during the Queen’s Speech at the opening of parliament in May.

The proposals have been met with roadblock after roadblock however, with the government last week extending its consultation on a ban by a further eight weeks.

On 29 October, the government published its consultation document for a conversion therapy ban – but it was littered with worrying red flags.

The consultation was intended to run for six weeks, to gauge public opinion on the specifics of legislating for a ban on the practice, with the government promising to bring a draft to parliament in spring 2022.

This time period, due to end on 10 December, has now been extended a further eight weeks, meaning the new deadline for responses is 4 February, 2022, at 11.45pm.

The Government Equalities Office insisted the extension was “to ensure the widest possible views are taken into account”, however experts stated that any delays could cause “lifelong harm”. 

Any potential delay to this ban will leave more LGBT+ people at risk of lifelong harm,” warned Stonewall CEO Nancy Kelley.