Albania has become the sixth nation to ban conversion therapy.
The country’s Order of Psychologists banned its members from attempting to change their patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Since therapists in the Balkan country are required to be members of the organization, it’s a national ban.
The LGBTQ organization Pink Embassy called the move “significantly important for LGBTI adolescents, whose parents often force them to undergo conversion therapy, in the hope of changing their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Conversion therapy refers to a set of practices that supposedly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, promising patients (or their parents) that they will no longer be LGBTQ.
It’s based on the idea that LGBTQ identity is a problem to be fixed, which can lead to long-term damage to victims’ self-esteem. A 2013 survey showed that 84 percent of former patients of conversion therapy said it inflicted lasting shame and emotional harm, and another study found that LGBTQ people who were forced into conversion therapy had an attempted suicide rate five times above normal.
Pink Embassy said that the conservative country is “among the most unfavorable at the European level” when it comes to attitudes about LGBTQ people.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Albania and there are some discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, but correcting the legal gender on one’s documents, marriage equality, and adoption by same-sex couples or step-parents are still not allowed in the country.
Germany, Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan are the other five nations to have banned conversion therapy for minors. Twenty U.S. states and many counties and cities have also banned the practice.