France Makes Trying to Convert LGBTQ Individuals to Heterosexuality a Criminal Offense

French lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change an LGBTQ person's sexual orientation or gender identity, making it punishable by prison time and fines.

The French National Assembly's vote was unanimous at 142-0, Euronews reported. Under the new law, anyone found guilty of practicing conversion therapy faces a 30,000 euro, or about $34,000, fine and up to two years in prison.

If the offense involves children or vulnerable groups, the penalty increases to as much as three years in prison and a 45,000 euro, or about $50,000, fine, the European news site added.

The law will also allow people to file civil lawsuits on behalf of victims of conversion therapy, which lawmakers said could help people who are unable to or have reservations about reporting the crime themselves, according to the Associated Press.

"No one will be able to pretend, under the threat of criminal sanctions, to be able to cure LGBT people," said Laurence Vanceunebrock, a member of French parliament who helped pass the legislation, The Local France reported.

According to the AP, she told the National Assembly Tuesday "there is nothing to cure," a sentiment echoed among activists working to ban the practice around the world.

In 2020, the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IESOGI) issued a report which said conversion therapy "may amount to torture depending on the circumstances, namely the severity of physical and mental pain and suffering inflicted," as it treats LGBTQ people "as lesser human beings."

The IESOGI report called on "States, the medical community and civil society" to work to ban the practice globally.

France is not the only country to ban conversion therapy this month. Canada's ban was approved in early December and went into effect on January 7, NPR reported.

A November report from Stonewall, a United Kingdom-based LGBTQ charity, said besides France and Canada, 13 countries have some form of national ban on conversion therapy. Out of those, Ecuador, Malta and Switzerland also have criminal bans on the practice.

In addition to nationwide bans, countries like the United States, Spain and Australia prohibit it in certain states, provinces or territories. Data from the Movement Advancement Project showed 20 U.S. states and Washington D.C. currently ban conversion therapy for minors while another five states and Puerto Rico have partial bans.

According to Stonewall's report, government bodies in Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Israel, Norway, Denmark and the U.K. are all considering legislation against conversion therapy.

Paris, France, pride parade, LGBTQ
The French National Assembly voted Tuesday to criminalize LGBTQ conversion therapy. Above, participants wrap themselves up in rainbow flags during the annual Pride March in Paris on June 26, 2021. Photo by Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images