Could ban on gay conversion therapy spark coalition crisis?

Blue and White MKs expected to back Meretz bill banning 'conversion therapy' techniques intended to reverse same-sex attraction.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 1:25 PM

Netanyahu and Gantz
Netanyahu and Gantz

The Knesset is slated to vote Wednesday on a controversial bill proposed by an Opposition lawmaker which would ban so-called “gay conversion therapy” techniques.

The bill was drafted by MK Nissan Horowitz (Meretz), one of several openly gay lawmakers, who decried conversion therapy as “murder”.

“Conversion therapy is murder,” Horowitz said at a committee meeting this week. “It is the murder of the soul – and often also of the body.”

“’Therapy’ here actually means mental and physical abuse of teens.”

While many lawmakers from the center-left Blue and White party are expected to vote in favor of the bill, socially conservative MKs, in particular haredi lawmakers from Shas and United Torah Judaism, are expected to vote against the bill.

“We will hold a deliberation in the party,” said Sports and Culture Minister Chili Tropper (Blue and White). “Of course we’re against conversion therapy. I expect most of the party will vote against conversion therapy, if not everyone. I don’t know anyone of us who supports conversion therapy.”

But Likud lawmakers insisted the government would oppose the bill.

“The government is opposed to the conversion therapy bill,” said Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud).

“The Ministerial Committee for Legislation rejected deliberations on the bill. This is a very sensitive, complex topic. I want to say very clearly that the vast majority of experts are opposed to conversion therapy, to say the least. About that there is no debate. On the other hand, it is far from clear that outlawing this and targeting pyschologists [who perform the therapy] is the right thing, or is needed.”

LGBT advocacy groups have sought the support of the Hadash faction within the Joint Arab List, as well as from liberal lawmakers from the Likud.

If passed, therapists who perform conversion therapy could face not only fines and the loss of professional accreditation, but also jail time.

A controversial practice in the West, conversion therapy spans a wide number of techniques intended to reverse a person’s same-sex attractions.

Condemned by LGBT groups, who claim conversion therapy harms patients, the practice has also been criticized by prominent health and mental health organizations, many of which have questioned its efficacy.

Supporters of conversion therapy, however, have rejected condemnations of the practice, claiming that opponents are motivated by ideological and political interests, and that conversion therapy can, in fact, be carried out in a safe and effective manner.