Taiwan is planning to ban gay conversion therapy – a controversial practice which claims to “cure” or change people’s sexual orientation. Regulations could be in place as soon as March, according to the country’s Central News Agency.

Last Friday, the Ministry of Health and Welfare published a draft regulation listing conversion therapy as a prohibited treatment. Physicians may be punished with fines of NT$100,000 (HK$2,4000) to NT$500,000 (HK$120,460) for using the psychological treatment on patients.

Photo: Pexels.

The head of the ministry’s Department of Medical Affairs Shih Chung-liang said: “Sexual orientation is not an illness.”

A 60-day public consultation will be held before the ministry issues regulations based on the draft. The new rule was originally suggested last June by the Taichung City’s Gender Equality Committee, which said the therapy hurt the physical and psychological health of some of their patients.

The World Psychiatric Association has said that the practice is unscientific as well as unethical and harmful to those who undergo it.

Same-sex marriage bill

Taiwan also looks set to be the first Asian nation to legalise gay marriage. On Saturday, President Tsai Ing-wen said that the debate on same-sex marriage is now in its “dialogue” phase.

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File photo: Carrie Kellenberger, via Flickr.

A draft bill passed its initial screening at the legislative Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee last Monday.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.