On Thursday, May 25, the Cyprus Parliament passed a bill that criminalises any attempt at so-called ‘conversion therapy’ on LGBTQ+ people, becoming the seventh European country to introduce a legislative ban against the practices.
The bill amends the country’s penal code and designates any practice, technique, or service by a person attempting to convert or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression as a criminal offence.
Anyone found guilty of carrying out the practices on an adult will now face up to two years in prison and a €5,000 fine, and any attempt to practice conversion therapy on a minor will carry a three-year prison sentence and a €10,000 fine. Advertising any type of conversion therapy or technique is also prohibited and punishable by up to two years in prison and a €5,000 fine.
The long-awaited announcement comes after Accept LGBTI Cyprus, a non-profit organisation that advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, worked toward this goal for over a year. The team has been researching the extent of conversion therapy in Cyprus, gathering witnesses, testifying before Parliament, and advocating for psychotherapists to officially condemn the practices.
When the news broke, Accept LGBTI shared, “We did it! Conversion therapies have been criminalised for all!”
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This news represents significant progress toward protecting LGBTQ+ people in Cyprus, but under the new bill, priests are still permitted to run confessions and advise queer youth about their lives. This amendment came in response to Church lobbying while the legislation was being discussed.
Conversion therapy is a harmful and often traumatising practice that attempts to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Considerable research has demonstrated that these methods are ineffective, and Spain, Greece, France, Germany, New Zealand, Belgium, Mexico, Scotland and Canada have also banned the practice in recent years.
While lawmakers in Ireland have long pledged to ban conversion therapy, the largely discredited practice remains legal in the country. However, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has confirmed that legislation to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in Ireland will be brought before the Cabinet this June.
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