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Israeli government considering ban on LGBTQ ‘conversion therapy,’ but bill put on hold

Coalition sources say the fact the bill to ban the widely discredited, harmful practice is even being considered is an achievement, but members of the opposition argue it wasn’t immediately disqualified only to minimize potential backlash against two openly gay ministers.

 

By Jonathan Lis

 

Haaretz (21.06.2020) – https://bit.ly/2BvjU2k – The Israeli government will examine legislation that would prohibit so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ people, but is widely discredited by experts worldwide and is used despite no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be altered.

 

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will likely delay the bill proposal brought forward by Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz in order to consider a more “moderate” version of the law that would be accepted by ultra-Orthodox parties, according to a government source.

 

The proposed legislation would ban “conversion therapy” and sanction so-called therapists with jail time, a fine, and revocation of their professional license.

 

The government source said that the fact the bill is being considered even though the coalition is made up in part by ultra-Orthodox parties, who oppose pro-LGBTQ legislation, is seen as an achievement.

 

Sources in the opposition, however, said the law was not immediately disqualified not in order to pass it at a later date, but to minimize offense to two openly gay ministers serving on the committee for legislation, and avoid criticism from Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party, which promised it would advocate for the LGBTQ community in its election campaign.

 

Previous attempts at writing into law a ban on “conversion therapy” have failed, including for bills proposed for former Health Minister Yael German, which never passed even a preliminary Knesset vote.

 

“‘Conversion therapy’ is murder,” Horowitz said at the meeting of the legislative committee. “It’s murder of the soul and often times the body too. These procedures result in self-harm to the point of suicide. What therapy means here is mental and physical abuse of teenagers.”

 

Horowitz said that professionals don’t believe the procedure can convert a person’s sexual orientation, and that it results in great harm. “The purpose of this law is to save lives,” he added.

 

“It’s our duty to locate the businesses of abuse, to revoke their licenses and charge them with a crime. Just as we would with a murderer or any person who causes the death of another person.”

 

Horowitz appealed to “all who see themselves as part of the fight against homophobia.” He named members of Kahol Lavan ‒ including Benny Gantz, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, and Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir ‒ as well as Likud MK Amir Ohana, who is gay, in his appeal.

 

“It’s our legal and moral duty to save the next victims of ‘conversion therapy.’ It’s an opportunity for the Knesset to give a clear message ‒ it doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, lesbian, or trans, we don’t want to change you. You are beautiful and whole just as you are.”





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Albania psychologists barred from conducting gay ‘conversion therapy’

By Rachel Savage

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (18.05.2020) – https://bit.ly/3c1Z4nU – Albania’s leading psychologists’ organisation has barred members from carrying out so-called “conversion therapy” which aims to make gay people straight, as countries around the world consider laws to ban the controversial practice.

 

The Order of Psychologists said members would face disciplinary proceedings if they carried out the treatment, which is based on the belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that can be “cured”.

 

All registered psychologists in Albania must be members of the Order of Psychologists which has given licences to about 600 psychologists since it was set up by parliament in 2017.

 

Only three countries – Brazil, Ecuador and Malta – have nationwide bans on “conversion therapy”, but earlier this month Germany outlawed the treatment for minors. The United States, Canada, Chile and Mexico are among nations seeking bans.

 

Xheni Karaj, executive director of the Alliance Against Discrimination of LGBT (Aleanca LGBT), an Albanian advocacy group, said the move was “very, very positive”.

 

“We know psychologists work a lot … in schools and we have had many cases of school psychologists (telling LGBT) kids that this is a disease and you should be turned back to ‘normal’,” Karaj told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

 

The Order of Psychologists issued its ban after a request from Albanian LGBT+ advocacy group Pink Embassy on May 11.

 

“Our professionals appreciate that conversion therapy is an archaic, unethical practice that categorically contradicts fundamental human rights and freedoms,” president of the Order of Psychologists, Valbona Treska, said in a statement.

 

Albania’s government did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Discrimination against LGBT+ people is illegal in Albania, but Aleanca LGBT documented almost 450 anti-LGBT+ hate crimes in 2019. The report found only 34 cases were reported to the police, due to mistrust and fears of being outed.

 

There were “a growing number of hate speech incidents in the media … most targeting trans people,” in the Balkan country in 2019, according to ILGA-Europe, a regional advocacy group.

 

Practices that aim to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity have been condemned by numerous medical associations globally. The European parliament denounced conversion therapy in 2018 and urged member states to ban it.

 

Brutal and extreme conversion methods including torture, forced internment, electroshock therapy and sexual violence have been documented in Ecuador, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and China.

 

A 2019 survey by advocacy group The Trevor Project in the United States, where 19 states ban conversion therapy for minors, found 42% of LGBT+ youth who underwent the treatment said they had later attempted suicide.


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