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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 22, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 21
Albania more LGBT-friendly than 30 US states
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Albania more LGBT-friendly than 30 US states

Country bans conversion therapy

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The small Balkan country of Albania has banned so-called "conversion therapy," making it more LGBT-friendly than 30 US states.

According to the AFP news service, Albania's order of psychologists has determined that the practice - which seeks to make LGBT people straight - is harmful and should not be practiced.

All registered therapists in the country must belong to the order, and their decision effectively bans the practice. Its decisions are final and "legally valid," Altin Hazizaj, head of the LGBT rights group Pink Embassy told the AFP.

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

The decision, announced May 15, is "significantly important for LGBTI adolescents," Pink Embassy said in a statement.

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

While religious affiliations in Albania significantly declined under the Communist government in power between 1945 and 1990, the country is culturally Muslim, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic - none of them friendly to LGBT rights.

"Social attitudes towards the LGBT community are... among the most unfavorable at the European level," Pink Embassy said in its statement.

In the past few years Albania has made progress in protecting LGBT rights. Same-sex relationships were decriminalized in 1995, and a law against discrimination based on sexual orientation was passed in 2010.

Conversion therapy is banned in 20 US states and Washington DC. The practice is banned nationwide in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, Samoa, Taiwan, and Uruguay. Germany also banned it earlier this month. A nationwide ban is pending in Canada.

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

Data from other countries show that people who have experienced the therapy are 8.4 times more likely to commit suicide, the Pink Embassy said. Also, they are 5.9 times more likely to experience severe depression.

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

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

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