“Conversion therapies endanger human lives and violate the rules of medical ethics in all reformed countries,” explains Meretz chairman MK Nitzan Horowitz, who initiated the law. “The essence of ‘treatment’ is mental and physical abuse of teenagers, whose whole sin is that they are LGBT people. Conversion therapy kills girls and our community members the mind on the false pretext that it is a legitimate treatment. We must stop this madness. “
In recent days, about 19,000 citizens have sent emails to Knesset members in order to create public pressure. At the same time, about a hundred victims of conversion therapies signed a letter sent yesterday to all members of the Knesset. “We all carry scars that refuse to heal to this day,” they write.
“We suffered treatments. We hated ourselves, fell into depression, and some of us wanted or tried to commit suicide. We were financially exploited. The damage is still deep in our minds and the prices we paid for this struggle were – and for some of us still – heavy. Needless to say, the ‘treatments’ did not convert any of us. Our sexual orientation or gender identity has not changed. “
“The time has come to stop the mental and sometimes physical abuse that comes under the guise of ‘treatments’,” said the director of the LGBT Association, Ohad Hezki. “This is a test time for anyone who has mental supervision and the law of souls in front of his eyes. We will not forgive those who choose to sacrifice the lives and health of boys and girls because of petty politics.”
The law has explosive potential in terms of the coalition, and in blue and white they are considering abstaining from voting so that the party’s Knesset members will not have to vote against the law.
Eran Argaman (28), Ariel
I grew up in a religious home and already at a young age I knew what my sexual orientation was. At the age of 17 and a half I told my rabbi about it for the first time and he said it could be changed and he asked me to go for treatment. I went to a clinical psychologist who asked me to sit in front of the mirror every day for long minutes and say that I was a pervert and that my sexual orientation was disgusting, forbidden and bad, while showing me pornographic sites.
I hated myself in those years. After the treatments I felt exhausted, destitute and wrong. I felt that my life was slowly going out, that with each treatment I was more and more dead inside. I started dating women hoping it might be what would change me, and following the fear that it would not change I tried to commit suicide.
It took me many years to realize that this is not the way. It was a long process, a crazy roller coaster. It left me with mental scars that still remain in my life even years later. Only after I started talking about it and people asked the questions things watched and I realized what I was going through. The hardware size of this thing.
The problem is that trained professionals take advantage of it for their own agendas. I think they are doing very serious damage that they are not necessarily aware of its consequences.
Nadav Tsabari (31), Kibbutz Nahal Oz
At the age of 18 I went to a seder meeting. There I went through the usual route of learning in a yeshiva and then enlisting in Givati. In the first year I tried to explore the feelings and thoughts I had. My whole essence regarding sexual identity.
I really enjoyed my military service, I really had an experience of fulfillment. I was in a very good relationship with a friend from the military and there was a great love, until I finished it because I did not have the tools to hold it.
I went to consult with an educational figure I relied on very much, and this character hugged me, contained me, and told me that everything would be fine. He told me it could be taken care of, that he already knew some who had gone through the process. I was happy. This was for me the answer to everything.
He referred me to some rabbi in Jerusalem, I met with him and we started treatment. It’s weird to say therapy, therapy is supposed to be something positive. The first conversion experience I went through included asceticism, fasting and fasting, which basically means that in order to change my sexual orientation one has to suppress and abuse the body.
For ten weeks I intersected intermittently. Since this whole thing is basically a secret I had to keep behaving as usual. Fasting for 24 hours while I do training in August in the desert. When I look back I do not understand how I survived it. It’s fictional to go through something like this and stay alive.
I felt nothing but thirst, hunger and depression. A few weeks passed where I experienced a crisis that it did not work and on my own initiative I continued this evil and went on my own initiative to other treatments intermittently for three years.
I think in the last year I have realized that I have no more strength. Happily and fortunately unlike friends and friends who did not survive it, my life force was stronger. But the impact of those years is devastating. It affects me a lot overtly and sometimes covertly.
Shani Gerbali (20), from Jerusalem
At the age of 13 I fell in love with my girlfriend. We were together for almost a year, without knowing it was forbidden. After seven months someone saw us and shouted at us “Ya lesbians”.
I did not understand why he shouted it like that in disgust. I searched for it, grew up in an ultra-Orthodox home, and we had a filtered internet. I came up with a page of mental advice, I was told that they know how to help me, that they do not take care of women but referred me to the neighbor.
I went to a therapist who claimed to be a clinical psychologist. At the first meeting I told him about myself. He told me it’s illegal for him to take care of me because I’m a minor, but because I’m at fault with my parents it’s better not share them. I signed a document for him that I do not share with anyone in the treatment.
In the first month we tried to understand why this happened to me. After a month and a half he told me I did not know what a man is and I need to understand, so we moved on to porn. I was a 13 and a half year old girl. He would put his hands on mine to make me feel what confidence a man gives.
I had exercises to do. I had to put a rubber band on my hand and every time I thought of girls I would pull to hurt myself. At some point it no longer hurts. I would punish myself – if I thought of someone I would starve myself.
The mantra of the treatment was that it is better to die than to live like this. I felt that if I give my hundred percent and fail then it is better for me to die. This was my first suicide attempt.
Today I can say that healthy psychological treatment is a treatment in which the person is at the center, and what is unhealthy in this treatment, is that the treatment revolves around conversion.
Moran Azulai participated in the preparation of the article