Knesset plenum
Knesset plenum Adina Waldman, Knesset PR

A bill which would outlaw gay conversion therapy passed its preliminary hearing in the Knesset Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, which was drafted by MK Nissan Horowitz (Meretz), would ban the controversial practice of treating homosexuals with the aim of reversing same-sex attraction.

In its preliminary vote, the 120-member Knesset backed the bill by a margin of 42 to 36, after the coalition split, with Blue and White backing the proposed law, while haredi lawmakers and the Likud opposed it - with the exception of Likud minister Amir Ohana.

After the vote, haredi lawmakers fumed at Blue and White chief and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz for endorsing the bill, threatening not to back him when he rotates in as prime minister midway through the government’s three-year term.

"We won't cooperate with Blue and White. But the Likud government was also a disappointment," said MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism). "Where was Prime Minister Netanyahu? And why did Amir Ohana vote in favor," Gafni continued, referring to the Likud Internal Security minister, who is openly homosexual. "Are they considering us at all?"

But haredi lawmakers also slammed Prime Minister Netanyahu for failing to enforce the coalition agreement – which bars coalition members from supporting laws not backed by the ministerial committee for legislation – effectively enabling Blue and White to back the bill.

“If the Likud isn’t able to muster a majority against [the bill] on an issue that is so important to the haredi public, he is lost," said Deputy Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism).

If the bill is passed in all its Knesset votes, 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.