Political leaders across the spectrum condemn conversion therapy remarks by Minister of Education

July 15, 2019 by  
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Israel’s newly-appointed Minister of Education Rafi Peretz came under harsh criticism by elements across the political spectrum on Sunday after he stated during a Saturday night interview that conversion therapy for gay people is a possibility and that he has provided such therapy to his students in the past.

Rafi Peretz Photo: Esty Dziubov/TPS

Minister of Justice Amit Ohana, Israel’s first openly gay minister, stated Sunday that he “sharply denounces” Peretz’s words.

“This is not the position of the state of Israel,” he clarified.

Several elements in the political arena called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Peretz, an orthodox rabbi and former Israel Air Force pilot who was appointed minister only a month ago.

Netanyahu himself stated that Peretz’s statement was “unacceptable.”

He spoke to Peretz on Saturday night, during which Peretz offered clarifications for his statement and underscored that “the Israeli educational system will continue to accept all children, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Former minister of education Naftali Bennett, an orthodox man, rejected Peretz’s statement and said that “Israeli society is diversified, and no one should convert anyone. We accept any person as he is.”

He further said that Peretz’s statements “do not reflect the opinions of the religious public, which disagrees with the obsessive war on LGBTs.”

Peretz later attempted to clarify his statement by pointing out that he did not claim that a child should be sent to conversion therapy.

He further related that while meeting with his students who felt conflict with their sexual orientation he had referred them to professionals for treatment.

“The education system I head will continue to accept all boys and girls, regardless of their sexual proclivities,” he stated.

In Australia, the president of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Anton Block told J-Wire: “Israel’s Minister of Education has recently made disgraceful comments likening assimilation of Jews in western countries to ‘a second Holocaust’, and defending widely-discredited ‘therapies’ to convert gays to heterosexuals, which have caused gay men to commit suicide.

It is bad enough to hear these ignorant prejudices expressed by private individuals from time to time, but it is utterly shameful and brings discredit upon the State of Israel when it is coming from an Israeli government Minister.  Prime Minister Netanyahu was correct to condemn these comments as ‘unacceptable’.

President of the ZFA Jeremy Leibler said, “I strongly condemn comments made by Rabbi Peretz MK on gay conversion therapy. It is unacceptable for an education minister, who is responsible for the school curriculum of a progressive and democratic country, to advocate scientifically discredited practices that cause untold damage to LGBTQ teens.”

He continued, “It is right that these comments were widely rejected not just by Peretz’s political opponents but by his coalition partners including Prime Minister Netanyahu. He stressed that Peretz’s comments were not acceptable to him and did not reflect the position of the current Government.”

Leibler stressed, “it is important that the government takes a strong stance on this issue, particularly when it relates to the well-being of youth within Israel’s education system.”

Turning his attention to Peretz’s other comments about annexing the entire West Bank,  Leibler said, “ Peretz’s reported comments in relation to annexing the West Bank are inconsistent with basic democratic principles and are contrary to the policy of the current Israeli Government. Peretz’s comments in relation to both the West Bank and on Gay conversion therapy are reckless and extremely concerning.”


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