The French parliament voted unanimously to ban conversion therapy on Tuesday.
The practise which involves psychological, physical or spiritual ‘treatments’ to force gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people to adopt heteronormative behaviours, is now illegal.
A UN expert declared in 2020 that conversion therapy could be considered an act of torture.
“No one will be able to pretend, under the threat of criminal sanctions, to be able to cure LGBT people,” said Laurence Vanceunebrock, one of the MPs who helped push the legislation through.
Those caught practising conversion therapy now face two years in prison and a €30,000 fine.
In theory, this false science was already punishable under a number of French laws including moral harassement and illegal exercise of medicine. France’s cult-fighting agency was given the task of tackling conversion therapy practitioners in 2021.
But the new legislation is wider-reaching and has been hailed a success by campaign groups.
“It is the end of a struggle that has run for many years and the proof of a real awareness of the reality in France,” said Benoît Berthe, spokesperson for the Rien à guérir (Nothing to cure) group.
He told the Marianne newspaper that the passing of the law amounted to “a great victory”.
France’s Minister for Gender Equality had previous described conversion therapy as “the antithesis to our republican values”.
Heralding the new law, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “Let us be proud. These undignified practices do not have any place in the republic. To be yourself it not a crime, there is nothing to cure.”
Work first began on this legislation in 2019, a year after the EU had called for conversion therapy to be banned. The practice is legal in a number of US states. The UK government said in December 2021 that it would ban conversion therapy.
Homosexuality was considered a psychiatric disorder in France up until 1981 and was only decriminalised in 1982.