(JTA) — Israel’s health ministry issued a warning declaring that therapies aimed at changing patients from gay to straight are not supported by medical evidence and could be harmful.
Signed by Health Minister Yael German, Sunday’s decision adopts the position of the Council of Psychologists and the Israel Psychological Association. The health ministry statement warns that gay conversion therapies are neither professionally nor ethically acceptable, citing numerous medical studies which show that such therapies do not work, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
“Sexual inclination is part of a person’s identity and requires no treatment or conversion,” German said, according to Ynet.
Israeli gay rights groups hailed the health ministry’s position.
“The Health Ministry warning comes after numerous studies and testimonies regarding the serious emotional harm suffered by LGBTs who underwent conversion attempts, including attempted suicides,” said Shai Deutsch, chairman of the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual Task Force, according to Haaretz.
However, those who advocate for gay conversion therapies remain undaunted.
“I know many, many people who have been treated,” Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, founder of Atzat Nefesh, an Orthodox organization that encourages gay conversion therapy, told Haaretz. “What, they don’t exist?”