The umbrella organisation of psychologists in Albania banned conversion procedures on Saturday. No state-approved psychologist in the country is allowed to conduct this “therapy” in the future. Although it was not a state decision, it is legally binding – making Albania the third European country after Germany and Malta to ban the highly controversial procedures.

Since all psychologists in Albania must be members of the association, none of them may offer conversion procedures in future, neither for young people nor for adults. Otherwise, the license may be lost.

The largest queer organisation in the country, Pink Embassy, welcomed the decision in an interview with AP News. In a statement, the organisation said that the association is now in the forefront of institutions that accept and promote the rights of queer people. The head of Pink Embassy, Altin Hazizaj, added

“Although there have been few reports of the use of such therapies in Albania, it was a serious problem to allow them to be used.

Albania joins Germany and Malta

Only two weeks ago, Germany banned the procedures on children and young people while Malta banned conversion therapy completely in 2016. In Spain and Great Britain, similar steps are still debated. In Switzerland, the Swiss Professional Association for Applied Psychology (SBAP) announced at the end of February that it rejects the procedures and is pushing for a nationwide ban. In Austria, the National Council voted last July in favour of a future ban on conversion procedures involving minors.

Although the decision in Albania is not a law adopted by the government, it is a very positive and important signal for the Albanian queer community. It completely bans conversion therapy, which is often intensified by inhuman methods such as electric shocks. In addition, the association’s decisions are legally valid and there are no hurdles, Pink Embassy explained. Hazizaj clarified:

“This is the final decision that neither the legislature nor the executive branch needs to pass in order to become effective”

Albania has been an official candidate country for accession to the European Union since 2014. The country, which has direct borders with Greece and Montenegro and lies across the Adriatic from Italy, is often divided on queer legal issues.  A rather conservative attitude among the population is countered by progressive anti-discrimination laws – which, unlike in many countries, also apply to sexual identity.

In the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2020, Albania ranked 78th.

 

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credits

  • Homosexualitytherapy: By: Daniel Tobias/ flickr.com / CC BY-SA 2.0. / wikimedia.org
  • talk-of-a-psychologist-with-a-drug: By: CC0 Public Domain

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