France Moves Forward in Criminalizing Gay Conversion Therapy

On October 5, 2021, France's Parliament voted unanimously in favor of a proposed law that would ban conversion therapies. The proposed law will also penalize practitioners and perpetrators with a jail sentence and a fine.

Voting to end the harmful practice of "repairing" the gender identity of LGBTQ people, France's lower house voted 115-0! The bill will now move on to the upper house for a debate. Backed by the French government, the proposed law was sponsored by President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche party.

Jean-Loup Adenor, a France-based journalist, in an interview with a local news outlet Ouest France, acknowledges that the proposed law may not be able to stop conversion therapy completely. Adenor said that the law is "unlikely to lead to a drastic reduction in conversion therapies, which were sometimes very secret." "What is important is that there are judicial instruments for victims to obtain reparation," he added.

Adenor is the co-author of Dieu est amour: Enquete, a book that documents the practice of conversion therapy whose goal is to "cure" homosexuality. According to Adenor, two known groups in France are actively carrying out conversion therapies. Torrents de Vie, an evangelical advocacy group, and the Catholic association, Courage. "It's a mixture of prayers, exorcism, and discussion groups," Adenor describes the practice.

The proposed law defines conversion therapy as "repeated practices, behaviors or words aimed at modifying or repressing the sexual orientation or gender identity." And that these repeated practices have had an "effect of altering his or her physical or mental health." This definition translates to criminal penalties of up to two years in jail and fines up to 30,000 euros.

Olivier Veran, France's Health Minister, described conversion therapies as "deplorable." "they cause terrible suffering," he added. He also tweeted the hashtag RienAGuerir which means Nothing to Cure.

Benoit Berthe Siward, the spokesperson for the non-governmental organization Nothing to Heal, describes the bill as an advancement against psychological violence. "From now on, the definition of conversion therapy is written and marked as illegal," he added.

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