Malta has made history as the first European country to ban gay conversion therapy.
The island nation passed the bill that will mean any medical professional found guilty of prescribing the so-called ‘gay cure’ therapy could be jailed.
Politicians voted through the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Bill, labelling gay cure therapy as “deceptive and harmful”.
The new ban will see anyone found guilty fined up to $5,000, or even sent behind bars for up to five years in the most serious cases.
The new ruling will see Malta retain its position as one of the most progressive places in the world for LGBT rights.
Professional bodies welcomed the news, with The Malta Chamber of Psychologists, the Maltese Association of Psychiatry, the Malta Association of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice and the Malta Association for the Counselling Profession all expressing their satisfaction at the bill’s passing.
“[We] openly disapprove of practices are which are harmful to people in our community,’ they said in a statement.
“Not only does it reject a group of individuals on the basis of unfound prejudice and lack of tolerance for diversity, but also because it impinges on the international recognition of LGBTIQ rights.
“As a body we promote respect and equality for all persons, and are determined to continue working towards ensuring our clients can enjoy as safe a therapeutic experience as they deserve.”
The news comes after U.S. Vice President elect Mike Pence tried to row back on his support for the controversial therapy.
Hong kong has also been criticised for refusing to condemn the practice, with social workers reporting that kids are given electric shocks to ‘cure’ them of their sexuality.