Jewish leaders need to spread awareness about the dangers of ‘conversion therapy’ a communal LGBT+ charity has urged, calling for a legal ban as a “good first step.”
Dalia Fleming, the executive director of LGBT+ education charity Keshet, said that greater education in the community about the harm the practise causes would also be needed to fully end it.
Prime minister Boris Johnson vowed to end the pseudo-scientific practice this week, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, two years on from a previous Government pledge.
“There’s a few things that need to happen in parallel,” said Dalia. “There needs to be more education so that people understand how dangerous it is.
“They think it’s therapy, but it’s not, it’s damaging, dangerous, it’s trying to change who you are as a person. We also need to ensure there’s much better support for those who’ve been through it.
“A legislative ban is essential but it has to be complemented with direct work in the community.”
Writing for Jewish News, Joe Hyman, who was subjected to the “abusive” practice aged seventeen, called for a ban to prevent others going through the same ordeal.
“Put simply, if there had been a ban on conversion therapy when I was 17 and religious leaders in my community had spoken out about it, I would have been spared the trauma and impact of this deeply abusive practice,” he said.
According to a government survey in 2018, 13 percent of trans Jewish respondents had been offered conversion therapy, and 3 percent of cisgender Jewish respondents.
Those opposed to a ban have claimed ban would criminalise prayer, a suggestion rejected by Fleming.
“I just don’t believe that a ban would impact a rabbi from offering support to a member of the community,” she said. “A ban is a good first step, you could not be clearer with a ban.”
Conversion therapy is already outlawed in Switzerland and parts of Australia, Canada and the US.
Last week three government LGBT advisers resigned from their posts at what they called a “hostile environment” within government to LGBT people.
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