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Israel: State Stops Unsafe, Pseudoscientific Scheme To ‘Straighten’ Sexuality

Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced on Monday that medical professionals would be barred from engaging in so-called conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity using psychological, physical, or spiritual interventions. Horowitz said that such therapy “kills the soul and sometimes the body as well” and that the move would save lives. The therapy, Horowitz said, “leads to self-harm, suicide, and death of more and more members of the gay community whose only sin is simply to be who they are.” Those who violate the new directive, issued by Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash, would be subject to punitive action that could include revocation of one’s license to practice. “Treatment is something that is supposed to help, so that what is called ‘conversion therapy’ is really not ‘treatment’ but cruel abuse,” Horowitz said at a press conference. The once-popular idea that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender identity are disorders that can be “cured” through therapy has largely been disavowed by the medical community but continues to be touted in some conservative and religious circles. “There is no clinical way to change it,” said Horowitz, who is himself gay. The Health Ministry’s directive notes that there is no accepted research evidence showing that conversion therapy is successful.