The Albanian Order of Psychologists has banned its members from performing any form of conversion therapy for LGBTI individuals. This includes trying to change the patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The ban is not enforced by the government but since all therapists are required to be a member of the Order, the ban is national.
The Pink Embassy, a local LGBTI organization said the move is “significantly important for LGBTI adolescents, whose parents often force them to undergo conversion therapy in the hope of changing their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual or gender identity via psychological, cognitive, psychoanalytic, and even sometimes, physical interventions. There is no valid scientific evidence that it works or that these identities can be changed. Furthermore, the risks associated with the practice are high. Depression, social withdrawal, suicidal tendencies and attempts, sexual dysfunction, drug use, and other psychological conditions have all been reported.
The governments of Germany, Malta, Ecuador, Switzerland, the UK, Brazil and Taiwan have all banned conversion therapy, along with 20 US states.
Albania has a number of anti-discrimination laws on paper, but the reality is that LGBTI individuals are widely discriminated against at all levels of society. Homosexuals are still unable to get married legally, a right that is granted to same-sex couples. Anti-gay prejudice, discrimination, reports of violence,and failure of the police to take hate crimes seriously are often reported.
While it is disappointing that the decision didn’t come from the government, the news has been welcomed by the country’s LGBTI organizations.