Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels
Israel's Health Ministry has introduced regulations preventing medical professionals from practicing LGBTQ conversion therapy - the scientifically debunked practise of trying to change someone's sexuality and/or gender identity - effectively banning the practice.
In a directive issued on Monday (14 February) the country's Health Minister, Nitzan Horowitz said the practice "kills the soul".
Speaking at a press conference, Horowitz, who is gay, said: "Treatment is something that is supposed to help, so that what is called ‘conversion therapy’ is really not ‘treatment’ but cruel abuse."
Continuing, as reported by The Times of Israel, Horowtiz said any medical professional found to be practicing conversion therapy could have their licence revoked. He added that the practice kills the soul and "sometimes the body as well."
He added: "It leads to self-harm, suicide, and death of more and more members of the gay community whose only sin is simply to be who they are." He also likened conversion therapy to "brainwashing".
Haaretz reports Horowtiz as also saying: "No one needs to be converted. Lesbian, gay, trans and straight people, you are good and beautiful just the way you are."
Monday's directive states there is no evidence to suggest the practice works and that all professional bodies are prohibited from practicing.
The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel was one of those to celebrate the news, tweeting on Monday that it was "a historic day on the road to ending LGBT abuse."
In a second tweet it added: "We will continue to fight to the point of completely banning 'conversion therapies' in primary legislation"
הנוהל החדש של משרד הבריאות הוא צעד חשוב לכל הדעות, אך נמשיך להיאבק עד לאיסור מוחלט של ״טיפולי המרה״ בחקיקה ראשית, לא רק כלפי אנשי טיפול מוסמכים אלא גם כלפי אלו המתחזים להם, כפי שכבר עשו עשרות מדינות מתקדמות ברחבי העולם.
2/2— האגודה למען הלהט"ב בישראל | The Aguda (@AgudaIsraelLGBT) February 14, 2022
A bill was introduced in 2020 to ban conversion therapy by law but has yet to be signed into law.
The Attitude February issue is out now. Get your copy here.