Government officials in Israel were gearing up to introduce a new bill in the legislative assembly that would ban conversion therapy, but according to reports, leaders have put the decision on hold as it continues to be reshaped to appease the opposition.
Conversion therapy is a traumatic form of physical and mental torture that aims to turn LGBTQ+ people straight through psychological interventions. The practice is widely discredited by experts across the globe, including the American Psychology Association.
Globally, there are five countries that ban conversion therapy federally: Germany, Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan. In the United States, 20 states (as well as a number of cities) have banned the practice for minors.
The bill was first introduced by Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the left-wing Meretz party. He is also a member of Knesset, the unicameral national legislature of Israel.
According to Haaretz, a government source said that the Ministerial Committee for Legislation would likely delay the bill so they can update it to make it more “moderate” for the sake of getting it passed by the ultra-Orthodox opposition.
However, the outlet reports the bill was not immediately disqualified by the opposition only so they can minimize backlash against to two out gay ministers serving on the committee for legislation, as well as to avoid criticism from “Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party, which promised it would advocate for the LGBTQ community in its election campaign.”
As it stands now, the bill would ban conversion therapy across the country and would place therapists at risk for jail time, fines, and revocation of their professional license should they practice it.
"Conversion therapy is murder," Horowitz said at the meeting of the legislative committee, according to Haaretz. "It's murder of the soul and often times the body too. These procedures result in self-harm to the point of suicide. What therapy means here is mental and physical abuse of teenagers."
Other attempts at banning conversion therapy in the country have failed, so the fact that this bill has gotten this far in the ultra-conservative coalition is itself a milestone. Still, it’s not a victory yet.
“It is our legal and moral duty to save the next victims of conversion therapy,” Horowitz said. “It's an opportunity for the Knesset to give a clear message — it doesn't matter if you're straight, gay, lesbian, or trans, we don't want to change you. You are beautiful and whole just as you are.”