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France’s parliament has unanimously backed a ban on conversion therapy in the country, bringing it one step closer to outlawing the practice.

Lawmakers in the country voted on Bill 673 on 5 October, which would see medical officials administering conversion therapy imprisoned for two years or fined €30,000.

Therapists and other providers offering it to minors will face three years in prison and an even harsher fine of €45,000, as well as doctors being given a potential 10-year ban from practicing.

Conversion therapy is described in the legislation as “practices, behaviors, or words aiming to modify or repress” a patient’s “sexual orientation or identity.”

France’s National Assembly, the lower house of its parliament, passed the bill in a unanimous vote.

It will now move to the upper house for debate and, if passed by the French Senate, could be written into law as soon as February 2022.

“Conversion therapies are deplorable,” concurred Minister of Solidarity and Health Olivier Veran writes on Twitter. “They cause terrible suffering.”

Shortly after the vote, the hashtag #RienÀGuérir (translating to “Nothing to Cure”) was widely circulated on Twitter in celebration of the move.

Conversion therapy has been widely condemned by health experts, with some comparing it to torture.

Among these are the World Health Organisation, World Psychiatric Association and the United Nations.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, an independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN, last year said a global ban on conversion therapy is needed.

“The combined effects of feeling powerless and extreme humiliation generate profound feelings of shame, guilt, self-disgust and worthlessness, which can result in a damaged self-concept and enduring personality changes,” he added in a report to the UN Human Rights Council.

In the UK, the government has been promising a ban on the practice for some time – though is yet to deliver.

It recently postponed its consultation on banning conversion therapy from September until late October.

The consultation was announced during the Queen’s Speech in May of this year.

It was initially praised by LGBTQ+ activists, with many hoping it was the beginning of the practice finally being banned in the UK.

At the time, Minister for Women & Equalities, Liz Truss, said: “As a global leader on LGBT rights, this government has always been committed to stamping out the practice of conversion therapy.

“We want to make sure that people in this country are protected, and these proposals mean nobody will be subjected to coercive and abhorrent conversion therapy.”

However, the government is now facing backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and activists alike for announcing the delay.

Downing Street said the discussions were fundamental prior to issuing a ban so that it is “proportionate, effective and does not have unintended consequences”.

A spokesperson added that any conversion therapy restrictions would be implemented in a way that would safeguard medical professionals and religious leaders, as well as protecting people from harm.