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Albania becomes third European country to ban gay ‘conversion therapy’

An Albanian LGBT activist waves a rainbow flag as she attends Tirana Gay Pride to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on the main boulevard in Tirana on May 13, 2018.
An Albanian LGBT activist waves a rainbow flag as she attends Tirana Gay Pride to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on the main boulevard in Tirana on May 13, 2018. © Get Shkullaku, AFP

Albania's psychologists have banned so-called "conversion therapy", which tries to change the sexual orientation of young LGBT people, a move hailed on Saturday by the country's rights groups.

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The decision by Albania's order of psychologists on Friday is "significantly important for LGBTI adolescents", the gay rights association Pink Embassy said in a statement.

All registered therapists in Albania must be members of the order of psychologists. Its decisions are final and "legally valid", Pink Embassy head Altin Hazizaj told AFP.

"This is the final decision which does not need to go through either the legislative or executive to enter into force," said Hazizaj.

Pink Embassy claims that parents often "force" adolescents to undergo conversion therapy.

"Although reports of the use of such therapies in Albania have been small, allowing them has been a serious concern."

Data from other countries show that people who have experienced the therapy are 8.4 times more likely to commit suicide, the NGO said.

Also, they are 5.9 times more exposed to high levels of depression.

Medical experts consider psychological or spiritual interventions to change someone's sexual orientation pseudo-scientific, ineffective and often harmful.

The most controversial techniques involve administering electric shocks as subjects view images of homosexual acts or injections of the male hormone testosterone.

In March 2018, the European parliament passed a resolution condemning the practice and urging member states to ban it.

Earlier this month Germany became the second European country after Malta to ban conversion therapy for minors.

In the past few years largely conservative Albania has made progress in protecting gay rights, passing a law in 2010 against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However, in everyday life most LGBTI people, like in many countries of southeastern Europe, still face prejudice, discrimination and domestic violence, says Pink Embassy.

"Social attitudes towards the LGBT community are... among the most unfavourable at the European level," the NGO said in its statement.

(AFP)

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