JERUSALEM (VInnews) — Israel’s fragile coalition was thrown into disarray Wednesday afternoon after a bill submitted by opposition member and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz calling for the banning of the use of conversion therapy passed in the Knesset by a majority of 42 to 36. Members of Blue and White voted against the coalition and in favor of the controversial bill.
The legislation would revoke the licenses of psychologists who practise conversion therapy and fine them and even jail them for repeat offenses.
Charedi MKs were incensed by the treachery of Blue and White and shouted “shame and disgrace” after the bill passed. The Haredim were also angry at the Likud for allowing Public Security minister Amir Ohana, a confessed homosexual, to vote in favor of the bill and not ensuring that the bill would be rejected.
Blue and White decided to support the bill shortly before the vote. “We promised and we upheld,” tweeted Defense Minister and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. “Conversion therapy was born in sin and its place is outside of the law and the public norm. We will make sure that everyone, from every background and sexual orientation in Israel will have free choice and security in their identity.”
In response, UTJ announced that it was halting all cooperation with Blue and White. A number of MKs addressed Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, stating that “You will not be prime minister.” Shas MKs left the Knesset plenum fuming and said that they would refuse to participate in any Knesset votes until further notice.
UTJ MK Yaakov Asher said that “It was expected from a party that claimed to be a ruling party to act responsibly and not on whims and revenge, certainly not on issues concerning the most sensitive aspects of Judaism. This is a categorical violation of the coalition’s mutual commitment. It is impossible for Judaism to be held hostage in the struggles and mutual revenges of Blue and White and the Likud.”
Housing Minister Ya’acov Litzman also spoke out against the approval of the bill, saying “The rotten conduct of Blue and White against coalition discipline is a challenge to the political partnership with them. The Likud must decide whether it knows how to run a coalition or whether it is losing itself politically.”
The UTJ party declared that “the law which passed harms the sanctity of the family and represents a clearcut violation of the coalition agreement. The support of members of Blue and White for the law has harmed the trust UTJ placed in their party. We are halting all cooperation with them from this moment and we call on community leaders and Chareidi heads of local councils to abstain from any cooperation with Blue and White representatives.”
In the past, The Israel Psychological Association has spoken out in the past against conversion therapy.
“The considered treatments were not found to be helpful, and they could cause real damage,” the Israel Psychological Association said in a paper quoted by Horowitz at the Knesset in June. “There is no place for any treatments that is based on the assumption that homosexuality is a disease or disorder requiring treatment, or for any treatments that places for itself the goal of changing sexual orientation.”
Conversion therapy could lead to “mental damage, including anxiety, depression and suicide,” the association said. “Other possible damage includes isolation and social withdrawal, difficulty making intimate and sexual connections, avoiding social connections, harm to religious belief, anger and distancing toward parents.”