In an interview earlier this week, Interim Education Minister Rafi Peretz claimed that conversion therapy for homosexuals can work effectively. This statement comes after admitting that he himself used this controversial method in the past to change people’s sexual orientation.
Peretz spoke candidly about his experience performing conversion therapy on a number of students, “I have a very deep familiarity with the issue of education, and I have also done this”.
“First of all, I embraced him. I said very warm things to him. I told him, ‘Let’s think. Let’s study. And let’s contemplate.’ The objective is first of all for him to know himself well, and then he will decide,” explained the Peretz, when asked how he counseled a student who spoke to him about his sexual inclinations.
Many party leaders have called for PM Netanyahu to have Peretz dismissed from his position.
With the pressure mounting, Peretz has reversed his stance on the issue and claims that what he said was taken out of context. As a demonstration of his position, Peretz wrote a letter to various school principals in Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv’s population is estimated to be 25% homosexual.
In the letter, Pertez wrote; “I know that conversion treatments are wrong and severe, this is my unequivocal position. I understand that this is an invasive treatment that is not compatible with the human psyche, causes patients more suffering than relief, and even causes patient suicide that could be prevented.”
“Nevertheless, it is the right of individuals with a homosexual tendency to seek an attentive ear and help with professionals, in a respectful and loving way, and that is what I meant in the interview,” he said.
Peretz is a former chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and is the current leader of the Habait Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party. He was appointed as acting Education Minister by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until the September 17th general elections.