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France has joined the United States, Germany, Canada and other countries in passing a law criminalizing the use of the discredited practice to attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of homosexuals.

France on Wednesday officially banned the use of so-called “conversion therapy” to attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people.

The measure was passed unanimously by the National Assembly, 142 votes to 0.

President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the decision, tweeting that “being yourself is not a crime”.

As France celebrates this step towards equal rights for the LGBTQ community, here is a deep dive into what this conversion therapy is, its history and why it has been banned by several countries around the world.

Conversion therapy explained

According to GLAAD, an American non-governmental media monitoring organization founded to protest defamatory coverage of LGBT people, conversion therapy is any attempt to change the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of an individual. ‘one person.

England’s National Health Service (NHS) calls conversion therapy – sometimes called “restorative therapy” or “gay healing therapy” – the attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In practice, this means trying to prevent or suppress someone from being gay, or living as a different sex than their registered sex at birth. This can include talk and prayer therapies and, in more extreme forms, exorcisms, physical abuse and food deprivation.

History of conversion therapy

Conversion therapy dates back to at least the 1890s, when German psychiatrist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing told a lecture that he successfully transformed a homosexual through hypnosis, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

At the time, being in a same-sex relationship was considered a crime, and many doctors were looking for ways to reverse homosexuality.

Some physicians, such as Austrian endocrinologist Eugen Steinach, have conducted testicle transplant experiments in which gay men were castrated and then received “heterosexual testicles” from other men.

Others saw homosexuality as a mental disorder and began to use psychiatric interventions in an attempt to “cure” people with gender identities and sexual orientations different from what was considered the norm. This included the use of lobotomies and aversion therapy, in which doctors attempted to disgust people who identify as LGBTQ with homosexuality.

In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed homosexuality in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). After much shouting and research, the APA rescinded the list in 1973 and removed homosexuality from the DSM.

British mathematician Alan Turing committed suicide after being found guilty of the crime of homosexuality at the time. Often hailed as a father of modern computing whose code-cracking is credited with shortening World War II, Turing killed himself in 1954, two years after being sentenced to chemical castration for ‘gross indecency’. of homosexuality. AFP

Many countries practiced conversion therapy and several people around the world underwent these so-called conversion therapies. One of the best-known names is that of Alan Turing, an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist, whose decryption skills are said to have shortened World War II by two to four years.

In January 1952 he was charged with “gross indecency” under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. It should be noted that homosexual acts were at the time a criminal offense in the United Kingdom.

His subsequent conviction led to him losing his job in the Secret Service. As part of his punishment, he was subjected to chemical castration.

Two years after choosing castration to avoid a custodial sentence, he ended his life at age 41 by eating an apple laced with cyanide. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized for Turing’s treatment by the justice system in the 1950s after thousands signed a petition in 2009 and he received a royal pardon in 2014.

How common is conversion therapy?

France officially bans LGBTQ conversion therapy What you need to know

Many countries around the world have called for a ban on conversion therapy because it is harmful and unscientific. AFP

It’s hard to know exactly how widespread the practice is. However, the practice is still widespread despite science proving that it is impossible to convert a person’s sexuality.

In fact, a 2018 UK government survey found that some members of the LGBTQ community had been offered some form of conversion therapy, while 2% had undergone it.

A study from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, published in 2018, said more than 698,000 people have undergone conversion therapy in the United States, and thousands more are likely to experience the therapy. discredited in the future.

Prohibited in countries

Citing the dangers of conversion therapy, many countries around the world have banned its use.

The practice has been banned in 18 states across the United States. Additionally, the US Caribbean Territory of Puerto Rico has also banned it.

In Germany, people under the age of 18 are not allowed to receive conversion therapy, while it is prohibited for adults in cases of coercion or deception.

Earlier this year, Canada also banned it, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting: “As of today, it’s official: conversion therapy is banned in Canada. Our government’s legislation has come into effect – meaning it is now illegal to promote, advertise, benefit from or subject anyone to this hateful and harmful practice. LGBTQ2 rights are human rights.

Australia’s Victoria also banned the practice in 2021, as did Queensland, which bans harmful practices not only in healthcare settings but also in religious settings.

In the UK, campaigners are urging the government to ban conversion therapy altogether. From now on, the government says that “adults who are deemed to have freely consented to the treatment” can continue the practice.

What is the new French law?

France officially bans LGBTQ conversion therapy What you need to know

File image of crowds attending the annual Gay Pride march in Paris. PA

The legislation prohibits “practices, behavior or words aimed at modifying or repressing [a person’s] sexual orientation or identity, having an effect which impairs their physical or mental health” and is punishable by a new offense in the criminal code of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to at 30,000 euros (about $33,900).

The penalty can be up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($50,000) for attempts involving minors or other particularly vulnerable people.

“It’s done,” tweeted the French Minister for Equality, Elisabeth Moreno.

“Conversion therapies, these barbaric practices from another era, are definitely banned in our country,” she continued, adding the hashtag #RienAGuerrir (Nothing to heal).

“A great victory for rights and equality,” tweeted French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune, who is gay.

With contributions from agencies

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