Israel passes first step in ban on ‘conversion therapy’ despite threatening coalition

Israel passes first step in ban on ‘conversion therapy’ despite threatening coalition

Israel’s coalition government could be at a breaking point after the law passed.

Israel has passed the first step in a ban on the discredited practice of ‘conversion therapy’, with the decision risking the country’s ruling political coalition. The bill was backed by some parties in the coalition agreement, like the Blue and White Party and the Labor Party.

The ban will still need to have two further readings and be approved by a Knessnet committee before it becomes law. If it’s fully passed, the law will ban the practice, and people convicted of performing it could face up to a year in a jail, and have their medical licences cancelled for up to five years.

Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White Party, told members of his party via WhatsApp: “We promised that and we will deliver. There could be repercussions. Nevertheless, this is a top-priority moral issue and it’s the right thing to do.”

The practice – which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association – refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and often involves techniques like electroshock therapy or prayer.

Members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likut Party were told to vote against the bill, according to the Times of Israel, but not all complied, including Amir Ohana, the Public Security Minister, who is openly gay.

LGBTQ+ advocates in the gallery cheered as the vote came through, however ultra-Orthodox lawmakers were furious, and shouted “You will not be prime minister” at Gantz. Gantz is scheduled to become Prime Minister of Israel on 17 November 2021, under the coalition government’s agreement to have an alternating PM.

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