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A bill for the Republic on the move to specifically ban “conversion therapy” intended to change sexual orientation was unanimously adopted on Tuesday by the National Assembly. The text was sent to the Senate.
After Ecuador, Malta, Germany, Brazil and Puerto Rico, which have legislated to ban “conversion therapy”, France is taking a step in this direction. On Tuesday evening, October 5, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a bill La République en Marche (LREM) aimed at creating a specific offense prohibiting these practices which aim to impose heterosexuality on lesbians, gays, bi and trans (LGBT).
Voted at first reading and sent to the Senate, the text provides for a specific offense against alleged “therapists” or religious who claim to “cure” homosexuals.
Two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros are punishable by “repeated behavior or speech practices aimed at modifying or repressing the sexual orientation or gender identity” of a person and “having the effect of altering his physical or mental health “.
The sanction is increased to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros in the event of aggravating circumstances, in particular when the victim is a minor, dependent or the perpetrator is in the ascendant.
Support for victims
Coming from the United States, these “medieval” practices are little known in France and difficult to quantify. During a parliamentary mission in 2019, Laurence Vanceunebrock and the Insoumis Bastien Lachaud spoke of “a hundred recent cases”, being alarmed at “the increase in reports”.
They describe treatments by “hypnosis”, “hormones” or even “electroshock”, “religious” drifts between “calls for abstinence” and “exorcism” sessions, or the use of heterosexual “forced marriages”.
Such acts can already fall within the scope of the law, via willful violence, the abuse of weakness, the illegal practice of medicine, harassment or discrimination … But Laurence Vanceunebrock deems necessary a specific offense to support victims faced with the difficulty of filing a complaint and better understanding the phenomenon.
This bill can help “save lives”, supported the Minister for Equality, Elisabeth Moreno. “There is nothing to be cured. Being yourself is not a crime, you should not seek to change the gender identity or sexual orientation” of people.
It remains to be seen whether the text will be successful, since Parliament is completing its work at the end of February, due to the presidential election in April.
Cases identified by Miviludes
Among LGBT associations and civil society, the mobilization is intensifying. Messages are multiplying on social networks, under the hashtag #RienAGuerir, named after a collective of victims launched in 2020 by Benoit Berthe Siward, present in the forum on Tuesday. And singer Eddy de Pretto supports the bill.
“Dozens and dozens of testimonies have come out”, recently assured AFP Timothée de Rauglaudre, co-author of the book “God is love” and of the documentary “Homotherapies, forced conversion”.
In mid-September, the Minister responsible for citizenship, Marlène Schiappa, entrusted a mission on this “unworthy practice” to Miviludes, the body for combating sectarian aberrations attached to the Ministry of the Interior. It will have to “quantify” the phenomenon and “analyze in particular its dimension of sectarian drift”, while several “spiritual” organizations have been singled out during parliamentary hearings.
In July, however, Miviludes indicated that it had “received” from 2018 to 2020 only “very few reports on conversion therapies while the parliamentary mission made it possible to free the floor and bring their existence to light on French territory. “. The Le Refuge Association had explained that it received about ten calls per month on this subject.
In Europe, Malta and Germany have already banned conversion “therapy”. Similar steps are being taken in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In Canada, MPs passed a bill at the end of June.