Israel’s Education Minister Speaks Out in Favor of Conversion Therapy, Sets off Storm

Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence. Leviticus 18:22 (The Israel Bible™)

Israel’s interim education minister, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, set off a storm on in Israel after he came out praising gay-to-straight conversion therapy saying that not only is he in favor of it but that he had “done so in the past” Ynet reports.

In response, LGBT educators sent Peretz a letter threatening that they will: “exhaust all legal means at their disposal to oppose the dangerous and offensive sentiments”.

On Saturday evening, Peretz was asked by Channel 12 if he thought that conversion therapy can be performed and responded: “I think it is possible. I can say that I have a deep understanding of the subject of education and I have done it. ”

Members of the LGBT community organizations have expressed their intention to demand the dismissal of Minister Peretz saying: “Conversion therapy is a hate crime. The prime minister should fire Minister Peretz immediately. Any other position is, in our opinion, support for him and his statement. ”

The letter also states: “Conversion therapies are not an acceptable practice. We don’t accept it as individuals and educators, and neither does an overwhelming majority of those in  the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and therapists worldwide.”

Rachel Keinan, a lesbian teacher from Tel Aviv and one of the letter’s signatories, said: “This is a sad day for the education system, and this is a serious danger to our students and educators.”

Menashe Levi, chairman of the Association of Elementary School Principals, called upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to dismiss Rafi Peretz as Education Minister at once and appoint a replacement who does not represent a sectoral party with backward and bizarre beliefs with regards to Israel’s education system, as the Education Minister.”

The Student Council also responded to Peretz’s statement saying: “The National Student and Youth Council supports all teenagers regardless of their sexual orientations and believes that sexual attraction and gender identity are part of a person’s identity and therefore don’t require ‘treatment’ or ‘conversion’. ”

The Psychologists Union penned a letter in response to Rabbi Peretz’s remarks: “Based on our research and clinical experience, your remarks are in total contradiction to the psychological and social reality with regards to integration and acceptance with sexual orientation during adolescence.”

Dr. Zvi Fishel, chairman of the Israel Psychiatric Association, added: “It is shameful and worrisome that the Minister of Education of the State of Israel not only expresses himself in favor of conversion therapy but also testifies that he performed it himself.” Fischel added: “The conversion treatments that claim to change sexual orientation, pose a danger, and cause serious harm to the patient’s well-being and the feeling of failure can lead to suicide”.

Last month, BIN reported on Israel’s first ‘Straight Pride’ parade.