Israel education minister defends ‘gay conversion therapy’

Israeli Education Minister Rafi Peretz has said he believes so-called « gay conversion therapy » can work, triggering widespread condemnation.

« I think it’s possible, » Mr Peretz, an Orthodox rabbi, told Israel’s Channel 12 TV channel. He added that he had « a very deep familiarity with the issue ».

PM Benjamin Netanyahu said such remarks were « unacceptable ». Other politicians and gay groups also voiced criticism.

« Gay conversion therapy » has been widely discredited around the world.

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The practice attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation through psychological, spiritual and sometimes physical means.

What did Mr Peretz say?

« I think that it is possible to convert [someone’s sexual orientation], » Mr Peretz said on Saturday.

« I can tell you that I have deep familiarity on the issue of education, and I have also done this. »

He described how he had acted when a gay person told him about his sexual inclinations.

« First of all, I embraced him. I said very warm things to him. I told him, ‘Let’s think. Let’s study. And let’s contemplate.’

« The objective is first of all for him to know himself well… and then he will decide, » Mr Peretz said.

He later attempted to clarify his comments, saying he did not intend that gay children must be sent to « conversion therapy », the Jerusalem Post reports.

How did Israel react to Mr Peretz’s comments?

Mr Netanyahu said: « The education minister’s remarks regarding the pride community are unacceptable to me and do not reflect the position of the government that I head, »

The prime minister said he had personally spoken to Mr Peretz, a leading member of the ultranationalist United Right alliance, to express his criticism.

Nitzan Horowitz, who leads the left-wing Meretz party, said « gay conversion therapy » was a dangerous practice which causes extremely severe circumstances for youths, including suicide ».

Israel’s LGBT Task Force, the Aguda, called for the resignation of Mr Peretz.

Source: The Guardian

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