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Malta becomes first EU country to outlaw gay conversion therapy

By Will Stroude

Malta has become the first European country to ban gay conversion therapy, the BBC reports.

The new law states that anyone who attempts to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression” will face a fine or imprisonment, with professionals who continue to practise conversion therapy facing fines of up to 10,000 euros or a year in prison.

The bill also recognises that “no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort.”

Conversion therapy describes a wide range of practices that attempt to “cure” someone of their sexual or gender identity, and can include anything from “counselling” to electric-shock therapy and religious exorcism.

The World Psychiatric Association deemed trying to change someone’s sexual or gender identity as unethical, dangerous and ineffective. Although conversion therapy is still technically legal in the UK, in 2014 NHS England and the Royal College of Psychiatrists signed an agreement denouncing the practice as “potentially harmful and unethical.”

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