The Mediterranean Island of Malta has become the first country in Europe to ban ‘gay conversion therapy’, a practice that aims to ‘cure’ homosexuality.
Legislation banning the practice was passed unanimously by a parliamentary committee in November, and has now been formally approved.
The law imposes penalties of up to 10,000 euros and a year in jail for professionals found offering conversion services, local media reports.
“No sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort,” the government says, with the law banning any attempts to “change, repress or eliminate a person's sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.”
The legislation contains exemptions for psychiatrists and psychologists whose treatment has an incidental effect on sexuality or gender expression – added after professionals expressed concern that the original drafting was too broad.
The World Psychiatric Association has condemned conversion therapy as ineffective, unethical and harmful to patients.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists also condemns the practice.
Gay conversion therapy remains legal in Australia.