Harsher penalties for promoting conversion therapy under new law

Promoting conversion therapy will carry a harsher penalty under new bill to be tabled in parliament

Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg announcing the reform (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg announcing the reform (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

The government is proposing a new amendment to the Conversion Therapy legislation so that the promotion or advertising of such practice carries a harsher penalty.

Conversion therapy refers to any treatment, practice or sustained effort that aims to change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.

These practices are already illegal in Malta according to the 2016 Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Bill.

The bill also includes penalties and jail terms for anyone who offers, performs, or refers a person to any type of conversion procedure.

The proposed bill will amend the advertising aspect of the law, which will be defined as publishing, advertising, displaying, distributing, linking to or circulating any content that promotes or entices people to undergo conversion therapy.

Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms Rebecca Buttigieg explained that this new amendment will strengthen the law, and legal action can be taken against anyone who infringes it.

Buttigieg said that the law has served to open people's eyes to the risks and dangers of such practices, but it does not make sense to have illegal practices being advertised.

Conversion therapy is considered deceptive, as it tries to deceive people who are in a vulnerable state, and uncertain about their identity.

The amendment will be submitted for Parliament's approval in the coming days.