Malta has approved a ban on ‘gay cure’ therapy, a bill that will see any ‘doctor’ who attempts to prescribe the dangerous practice possibly jailed.
Parliament approved the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Bill last night (7 December), which will categorize the act of attempting to ‘cure’ a LGBTI person as ‘deceptive and harmful’.
It is the first country in Europe to ban conversion therapy.
Amendments to the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Acts were also approved, which will allow non-Maltese people to transition and lower the age to request to change your legal gender to 16.
The ‘gay cure’ ban, which was agreed to by every single parliamentary official, will see any person who attempts to change, repress or eliminate or person’s sexual orientation receive a fine ranging from €1,000 to €5,000 ($1,080 to $5,400) or a jail term of five months.
The Malta Chamber of Psychologists, the Maltese Association of Psychiatry, the Malta Association of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice, the Malta Association for the Counselling Profession all applauded the bill’s passing.
‘[We] openly disapprove of practices are which are harmful to people in our community,’ they said in a statement. ‘Not only does it reject a group of individuals on the basis of unfound prejudice and lack of tolerance for diversity, but also because it impinges on the international recognition of LGBTIQ rights.
‘As a body we promote respect and equality for all persons, and are determined to continue working towards ensuring our clients can enjoy as safe a therapeutic experience as they deserve.’
While same-sex marriage is still on the horizon, Malta is consistently ranked as being one of the best countries in LGBTI rights.
All the more remarkable as, in 2011, the small southern European island was one of three countries that still banned divorce never mind any protections for LGBTI people. In a few short years, it passed civil unions and has one of the most comprehensive laws protecting trans and intersex people in the world.