Israel’s health ministry warning over sexual orientation ‘therapies’

Israel’s health ministry warning over sexual orientation ‘therapies’

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner

By Jack Mendel

Israel’s health ministry has issues a public warning against ‘therapists’ that practice conversion ‘therapies’ and ‘treatments’ for sexual orientation.  

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner

In a landmark decision, the public warning outlines that “therapists using this method create a false impression of scientific recognition”.

Health Minister, Yael German outlined that “Sexual orientation is part of a person’s identity, and doesn’t need ‘treatment’ or ‘conversion’.”

The paper continues to outline that the practice of trying to ‘treat’ or ‘convert’ someone to hetrosexuality is both unethical and and not professional, as there is no evidence to support it.

“It presents the case that practitioners of so called ‘conversion’ therapy “are not members of the recognised mental health professions: psychologists, social workers, or psychiatrists.”

“In the absence of a law on psychotherapy, treatment in such a complex and sensitive field by uncertified ‘therapists’ is neither ethically nor professionally acceptable, and the public must be warned,”

Israeli LGBT activists came out in support of the decision. Shai Deutsch, chairman of the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual Task Force praised the Health Ministry warning, after numerous studies and testimonies regarding emotional harm suffered by LGBTs who underwent conversion attempts had become apparent.  

The religious gay group Hevruta issued a statement, outlining that the therapy promotes stress and warned that many members bear emotional scars of such ‘treatments,’”.

 “Not a single one of our hundreds of members succeeded in changing their sexual orientations” and that “It’s just not possible.”

There were however critics, such as Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, an active supporter of the Atzat Nefesh organisation, which is the primary advocate of therapies and assistance for non-hetrosexuals to be ‘cured.’

Avenir claims that “I know many, many people who have been treated”, stressing a political narrative in the health ministry’s stance. 

But he decision has Orthodox support too, with Rabbi Ron Yosef, who is the head of the LGBT Orthodox Hod organisation, telling Israel’s channel 2, that: “Many teenagers continue to suffer under the treatment of practitioners, many of whom are not professionally recognized,”

Israel is widely considered as one of the few ‘gay friendly’ countries in the region, but has experience turbulence regarding its religious contingent’s views on LGBT issues. 

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