Truth Wins Out Calls on Netanyahu to Fire Education Minister who Supports Discredited Conversion Therapy for LGBT People

There is No Place in a Modern Country Like Israel for a Backward and Barbaric Practice that Divides Families and Destroys Lives

PHILADELPHIA – Truth Wins Out called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to dismiss Education Minister Rafi Peretz today after he expressed support for the destructive practice of conversion therapy, which unsuccessfully purports to turn LGBT people into heterosexuals. Worse, Peretz told a broadcaster that he had actually practiced this discredited form of quackery himself.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Peretz was asked about conversion therapy in a Saturday evening interview with Israel’s Channel 12. His answer was stunning and unacceptable for a person in a high position of influence and power.

“I think that it is possible to convert [someone’s sexual orientation],” said Peretz. “I can tell you that I have deep familiarity on the issue of education, and I have also done it [conversion therapy].”

“There is no place in a modern, sophisticated country like Israel for a backward and barbaric practice like conversion therapy that divides families and destroys lives,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “We strongly urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Education Minister Rafi Peretz, because his ignorant and insulting support of a discredited practice shows he is unfit for his job.”

Although he has tried to backtrack, while also pathetically playing the victim of the alleged thought police, Peretz is only digging a deeper hole.

“I never said that I was in favor of conversion therapy,” he continued. “I respect and value everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.” He added that the attacks against him demonstrated that “it seems that not even the education minister can think differently, [and] that there is only one camp which flies the flag of free speech.”

“While Peretz is entitled to free speech, he should stop whining about pushback for his false speech in support of an inhumane treatment that has shattered too many lives,” added TWO’s Wayne Besen.

Keeping Peretz in his position would be incongruous with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointing Dr. Evan Cohen today as his new spokesperson for international media. The Times of Israel reports that Cohen is “the founding chairman of Likud Pride, the party’s caucus for LGBTQ rights, a fact Netanyahu noted in a tweet announcing his appointment.”

The LGBT Jewish Organization, A Wider Bridge, announced it would lead a protest demanding that Netanyahu dismiss Peretz. Truth Wins Out fully supports this demonstration and hopes it will lead to action by Netanyahu.

The alleged conversion therapy success of Peretz must come as a surprise to those intimately familiar with the issue. In 2013, Exodus International, the world’s largest “ex-gay” program, shut down after its leaders claimed the program was ineffective and harmed many clients. Last month, several former leaders of the “ex-gay” conversion movement apologized for the harm they caused their clients in an exclusive Truth Wins Out video.

In a landmark lawsuit, the largest Jewish conversion therapy organization, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), was forced to close in 2012 after it was ruled they committed consumer fraud. The co-founder of JONAH, Arthur Abba Goldberg, was also revealed to be a convicted felon who hid this ominous fact from those seeking his “help.” Another prominent Jewish conversion therapist, Norman Goldwasser, was caught last November cruising for men on the gay apps Bear Nation and Manhunt.

According to testimony at the JONAH trial, one plaintiff was encouraged to undress and stand naked in a circle. At other times, a JONAH counselor encouraged three of the male plaintiffs to undress in front of a mirror and touch their genitals while he watched. Group activities were organized for clients to re-enact past abuse and take part in violent role-play exercises. Male counselors also engaged in and advocated “healthy touch” with young men, including prolonged cuddling sessions.

“Conversion therapy is a waste of time and money – not to mention a well-known conduit for sexual exploitation and abuse,” said TWO’s Besen.

The American Psychiatric Association says that sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) can lead to “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior”, including suicide. The American Psychological Association says, “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” Such “therapy” is considered so detrimental that nineteen states and the District of Colombia ban practicing it on minors.

According Dr. Caitlin Ryan’s study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “LGBT teens who were highly rejected by their families were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs.” (Caitlin Ryan, San Francisco State University, June 2009).

A new study by Dr. Ryan, who also directs the Family Acceptance Project, reports:

“Parent-initiated attempts to change participant’s sexual orientation during adolescence were associated with more negative mental health problems for young adults.”(Journal of Homosexuality, Nov. 2018)

Founded in 2006, Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit think tank and advocacy organization that fights against right wing extremism, the “ex-gay” myth and anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination.