On Wednesday, Israel witnessed a historic moment as its parliament took a step towards criminalising gay 'conversion therapy'. After two parties in the coalition government joined the opposition to vote in favour; the bill passed its first stage in parliament. The practice is regarded as a human rights violation.
In 2019, the therapy was endorsed by Israel's then-education minister and this had triggered a backlash. A political crisis might happen due to this move as religious parties are unhappy with the bill.
'Conversion therapy' is referred to as a form of treatment or psychotherapy, which intends to alter a person's sexual orientation or to repress gender identity.
Head of the left-wing Meretz party, opposition lawmaker Nitzan Horowitz, introduced the bill. Israel's parliament, the Knesset, approved the Bill in a vote of 42 to 36.
Before the Bill becomes a law, it must pass through two more Knesset readings. Members of the centre-right governing coalition can ultimately block the Bill. And the possible grounds can be that the Bill originated from the opposition.
The vote was described by Horowitz as a 'historic moment'.
After the Bill was passed, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) stated that it might introduce Bills that might be objectionable. UTJ is part of the fragile national unity government.
A 'historic change' in Israel
'Conversion therapy' is something that has been opposed on a logical, ethical and moral basis.
Horowitz co-authored the bill and said that this step would indeed lead to a 'historic change' in Israel.
The result was welcomed by Blue and White leader and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz.
He posted on Twitter that "Conversion therapy was born in sin and its place is outside of the law and the public norm."
He further stated that every effort will be made to ensure that people from all backgrounds and sexual orientations have free choices and feel secure about their identity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his remarks "unacceptable".
It should be noted that when it comes to LGBTQ people in the Middle East, Israel has the most progressive attitude and some conservative sections of society oppose this strongly.