Albania has just banned conversion therapy, making it the third country in Europe to do so, after Malta and Germany.
In Albania, conversion therapy is now barred for all members of the country’s leading psychology organization, the Order of Psychologists. Psychologists who use the discredited practice, which aims to turn LGBTQ+ people straight and/or cisgender, will face disciplinary proceedings, per Reuters. All registered psychologists in Albania must be members of the Order of Psychologists.
Albania’s new policy is effectively a wholesale ban on conversion therapy. Meanwhile, Germany’s ban — which just passed earlier in May — only bans the practice for minors under age 18.
Xheni Karaj, executive director of the Alliance Against Discrimination of LGBT, called the new ban “very, very positive.”
“We know psychologists work a lot … in schools and we have had many cases of school psychologists (telling LGBT) kids that this is a disease and you should be turned back to ‘normal’,” Karaj told Reuters.
The president of the Order of Psychologists, Valbona Treska, also praised the move. “Our professionals appreciate that conversion therapy is an archaic, unethical practice that categorically contradicts fundamental human rights and freedoms,” Treska said in a statement.
The Albanian LGBTQ+ organization Pink Embassy found that people who undergo conversion therapy are 8.4 times more likely to die by suicide and 5.9 times more likely to report experiencing depression.
Only a few countries in the world have nationwide bans on conversion therapy, including Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, and Taiwan. Several U.S. states and cities also have passed bans, and advocates are working hard to pass nationwide bans in the U.S. as well as Canada, Chile, and Mexico.
The European parliament formally voted to condemn conversion therapy and encouraged all member states to pass bans in March 2018. Still, only a few countries have successfully followed suit in the two years since.