The Israeli Medical Association has banned its doctors from practising gay cure therapy.
The body, which represents 90 percent of Israel’s doctors, has imposed strict new rules that would see gay cure practitioners expelled.
The policy, announced on January 7, makes clear that efforts to change sexual orientation have been proven to be ineffective and can have a string of harmful effects.
Israeli Medical Association: Gay cure therapy ‘could cause mental damage’
It states: “There is a special danger in referring children and teenagers to treatment meant to change one’s sexual orientation.
“A comprehensive review of studies and position papers from other organisations showed an agreement that there is no place for any treatment based on the assumption that homosexuality is a disease or a disorder that requires treatment.”
The association continues: “The treatments to change one’s sexual orientation have been found to be ineffective and could cause mental damage, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies.”
Although the policy statement has been praised as a welcome step, LGBT+ campaigners pointed out that gay cure therapy is more commonly performed by unlicensed religious practitioners, rather than doctors.
Chen Arieli, chairwoman of the Israeli LGBT Association, told Reuters: “We need to have a holistic approach regarding conversion treatment.
“Our goal is to strengthen the religious LGBT organisations, to help them outreach [to] those youth that may be at risk of having conversion treatment.”
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Broader laws outlawing gay cure therapy for minors have been adopted in 14 US states and Malta, with several other countries also considering laws to fully outlaw the practice.
LGBT+ activist Nadav Schwartz, 36, spoke to Ynet about their experiences as a victim of gay cure therapy.
Schwartz said: “I approached an organisation called the Soul’s Advice. They assigned me with a therapist who wasn’t at all qualified, and told me that my father ‘made me gay’ and that after the therapy I will no longer be attracted to men.
“I know some men who were ordered to secretly stalk women and take their picture, or masturbate over pictures of women. Some suffered physical punishment, like being beaten, because they were attracted to men.”
Gay cure group JONAH was found guilty of fraud
One of the most prominent groups that performs gay cure therapy is Orthodox Jewish group JIFGA, formerly known as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH).
The group reportedly operates in United States, Canada, Israel and across Europe, but its actions are controversial.
In 2015, JONAH was found guilty of consumer fraud in the US state of New Jersey, for claiming to have the ability to change clients’ sexual orientations.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter hit out at the “false premise that homosexuality is either abnormal or a mental disorder,” comparing it to “the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it.”
JONAH was forced to shutter its services as a result of the trial, but later relaunched as JIFGA.