PARIS (AP) — France has a new law that prohibits so-called conversion therapies and allows jail time and fines for practitioners who use the scientifically discredited practice to attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people.
The National Assembly approved the new law unanimously, voting 142-0 on Tuesday night.
The legislation provides criminal penalties for those found guilty of attempting to “convert” LGBTQ people to heterosexuality or traditional gender expectations.
The law also opens up the possibility for activists to bring civil suits on behalf of victims, a step hailed in parliament as a breakthrough for people who are reluctant or unable to alert the police themselves.
Lawmaker Laurence Vanceunebrock, who helped pass the law through parliament, said it would target “anyone who equates sexual identity or orientation with the disease”.
“There is nothing to heal,” she told the National Assembly.
The French government’s Minister for Equality and Diversity, Elisabeth Moreno, called so-called conversion therapies “barbaric” and told lawmakers that the suffering they inflict “very often leaves permanent marks on bodies.” and spirits”.
Under the new law, sustained efforts “that seek to alter or rebuke sexual orientation or gender identity” and that impact the physical or mental health of victims are punishable by up to up to two years in prison and a 30,000 euro ($34,000) fine.
The penalty can be up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($50,000) for attempts involving minors or other particularly vulnerable people.
Performing therapy to change a person’s sexual orientation is already prohibited in several US states and in the US Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico.
The law will come into force within the next 14 days with the signature of President Emmanuel Macron. Macron welcomed his passage.
“Let’s be proud of it,” tweeted the French leader. “Being yourself is not a crime.”
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