Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels
France has become the latest country to issue a ban on gay 'conversion' therapy.
The abusive practice, which seeks to change or alter someone's sexual orientation or gender identity has been widely debunked by health organisations and medical experts.
Here, in the UK, a consultation on our own ban is underway and is due to come to an end on 4 February.
"Let's be proud"
France's bill was passed unanimously by its National Assembly in a session on Tuesday (25 January) and means that someone can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to 30,000 euros (£25,000) if they are found to be practicing conversion therapy. Perpetrators will face tougher sentences if under-18s or vulnerable adults are involved.
The bill had previously been passed by the country's MPs in December.
France's President, Emmanuel Macron, tweeted on Tuesday evening: "The law prohibiting conversion therapy is adopted unanimously! Let's be proud, these unworthy practices have no place in the Republic. Because being yourself is not a crime, because there is nothing to be cured."
La loi interdisant les thérapies de conversion est adoptée à l'unanimité !— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 25, 2022
Soyons-en fiers, ces pratiques indignes n'ont pas leur place en République. Parce qu’être soi n’est pas un crime, parce qu’il n’y a rien à guérir.
Once signed into law by Macron, it takes effect 14 days later. 2022 also marks 40 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in France.
Here in the UK, a ban was promised over three years ago by then Prime Minister, Theresa May. It was eventually entered into the Queen's Speech last year with a consultation announced not long after. That was originally due to conclude in December.
The government then announced in December that the consultation would go on until 4 February 2022.
Tweeting today (27 January) the Ban Conversion Therapy campaign says: "Any further delay will only lead to more LGBTQ+ people being left at continuing risk of conversion practices, with all the long-term harm that entails."
Through delays, further research, and consultation, a ban has been waited on 4 years. Any further delay will only lead to more LGBTQ+ people being left at continuing risk of conversion practices, with all the long-term harm that entails. #BanConversionTherapy @EHRC @GEOgovuk— BanConversionTherapy (@BanCTorg) January 27, 2022
This follows a statement from the Equality And Human Rights Commission in the UK, which suggested delaying the ban on conversion therapy as well as suggesting that the Scottish government pause its plans to simplify legislation around gender recognition.
We have also published our response to the UK Government’s consultation on conversion therapy.— EHRC (@EHRC) January 26, 2022
Download and read our response here ⬇️ https://t.co/1djOSIrOfN
This caused outrage among the LGBTQ community, with some, such as the Equality Network, accusing the EHRC of being government appointees (the EHRC is funded by the government's equality office) and against trans people.
Among the EHRC's concerns is that there is "insufficient detail [in the consultation] to enable us or the public to provide a sufficiently informed response." It also questions data used in the consultation.
Stonewall said the EHRC's statements "undermine their core purpose of regulating, promoting and upholding human rights," and that it is "deeply troubled by the approach that the EHRC is taking to trans people’s human rights."
We advise people to share their opinions and views on the conversion therapy band here.
The Attitude February issue is out now. Get your copy here.