Gay conversion therapist convicted of assaulting boys

A gay conversion therapist in Israel has been convicted of molesting boys he was treating.

Reuven Welcher, 45, convinced two boys into believing indecent acts he performed on them were part of the treatment.

The indictment, filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in September 2017, stated one of the boys met Welcher dozens of times between 2007 and 2012, including when he was a minor.

The boy was told to perform tasks such as writing 40 things that would make him a man, according to the Times of Israel.

Attorney Or Gabbay of the prosecution said that Welcher “made use” of the “distress” of his client who contacted him to seek support.

“This is an abusive relationship that went on for years, with the sex crimes committed on many occasions during therapy sessions, in hotels and in the clinic in Welcher’s home.”

Welcher would also shout at the boy, humiliate him and threaten to stop the therapy.

The defendant confessed to the charges as part of a plea deal, according to which the prosecution will ask the court to sentence him to community service rather than a prison term.

Welcher will also undergo an assessment to determine whether he is dangerous to the public.

A school student looks at a book

Conversion therapy has been widely criticised for damaging psychological health (Pexels)

Conversion therapy, which can include hypnosis and electric shocks, is based on the belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be cured.

It has been widely discredited by medical experts for risking causing emotional and psychological damage.

Earlier this month, New York passed bills banning gay conversion therapy and adding gender identity to its anti-discrimination legislation.

Other states that have banned the practice include New Hampshire, California, Maryland, and Connecticut.

The other bill, called the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which added gender identity to the state’s hate crime laws, was first put forward to the legislative body around 17 years ago but had faced opposition in the senate.

“The New York State Senate just passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression and adding protections for transgender NYers to the state’s Hate Crimes Law,” Hoylman said on Twitter on Tuesday (January 15).

“Recognition, at long last. #GENDA.”