Israel Begins Process Of Banning Gay Conversion Therapy

Cameron Frew

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PA Images

Israel is on its way to become the first Middle East country to outlaw ‘gay conversion’ therapy. 

The highly controversial, harmful practice involves the use of psychotherapy or any other type of treatment in a bid to alter one’s gender identity or reverse a person’s sexual orientation.

While prime minister Boris Johnson has described conversion therapy as ‘absolutely abhorrent’, it’s yet to be made illegal in the UK. While there’s still some way to go, Israel has made a concrete step for the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBT Nationwide Strike in Israel 2018PA Images

A year after the country’s previous education minister actually endorsed the practice, a bill that would see it banned passed its first stage in parliament, known as the Knesset. It was brought forward by Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the left-wing opposition Meretz party, who said it marked a ‘historic change’ in Israel.

The legislation was passed in a preliminary vote of 42-36, with the coalition’s Blue and White and the Labour Party supporting the bill. However, it must pass three more readings in the Knesset before being approved. Several Likud party members, despite being ordered to reject the bill, voted in favour – such as Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, who is gay.

Nitzan HorowitzPA Images

As reported by BBC News, Blue and White leader and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said: 

Conversion therapy was born in sin and its place is outside of the law and the public norm. We will make sure that everyone, from every background and sexual orientation in Israel, has free choice and security over their identity.

As per Jewish Exponent, Gantz added that ‘we promised’ to reject gay conversion therapy, ‘and we will deliver… there could be repercussions. Nevertheless, this is a top-priority moral issue and it’s the right thing to do’.

Ultra-Orthodox Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, head of the United Torah Judaism party, slammed the ‘rotten’ coalition members who supported the bill.

Benny GantzPA Images

In a statement issued to Israel’s Channel 12, Litzman said: ‘Blue and White’s poor conduct, in violation of coalition discipline, is an open affront to our political partnership. Likud must decide whether it knows how to manage a coalition or if it is committing political suicide.’

Or Keshet, from Israeli rights group AGUDA, earlier said that thousands of people have likely undergone conversion therapy in the country, particularly in ‘religious’ circles where homosexuality and different sexual orientations remain fairly taboo.

As reported by France 24, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, an expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, presented a report to the United Nations about the methods of conversion therapy. His evidence included beatings, rape, electrocution, forced medication, confinement, forced nudity, verbal humiliation and other abuse.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]

Topics: News, Israel, LGBT Rights, LGBTQ+, Now, World News

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BBC News and 3 others
Cameron Frew
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