Conversion therapy can no longer be practiced in Albania.
The European nation's leading organization of psychologists banned the discredited practice, which attempts to turn gay and bisexual people straight and "cure" transgender people.
The Order of Psychologists will penalize any of its members for violating the ban. Additionally, since the Order, which was created by the country's Parliament in 2017, oversees all registered psychologists in Albania, its new decree is the equivalent of a legislative ban.
LGBTQ+ groups in Albania praised the move, called "very, very positive" by Xheni Karaj, executive director of the Alliance Against Discrimination of LGBT.
“We have had many cases of school psychologists [telling LGBTQ+] kids that this is a disease and you should be turned back to 'normal,'” Karaj told Reuters.
Research from the Albanian LGBTQ+ organization Pink Embassy found that those who undergo conversion therapy are 8.4 times more likely to take their own lives, and are 5.9 times more likely to report experiencing depression.
In March 2018, the European Union formally voted to condemn the practice and urged all of its member states to ban it. Since then, Germany, Malta, and now Albania have now heeded that call in Europe.
Although LGBTQ+ people in Albania are protected under antidiscrimination law, they still face obstacles in the conservative nation, including a lack of recognition for same-sex couples as well as ongoing stigma. "Social attitudes towards the LGBT community are ... among the most unfavourable at the European level," asserted a statement from Pink Embassy.