Israeli minister Rafi Peretz claims gay conversion therapy ‘works’

An Israeli minister has been widely criticised for claiming gay conversion therapy works.

Education Minister Rafi Peretz, an Orthodox rabbi, told Israel’s Channel 12 TV channel: “I think that it is possible to convert [someone’s sexual orientation].

“I can tell you that I have deep familiarity on the issue of education, and I have also done this,” he added.

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

It has been widely discredited by medical experts as pseudo-science and condemned for causing emotional and psychological damage.

Peretz also described how he had acted when a gay person told him about his sexuality.

“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.’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the education minister for his comments (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

“The objective is first of all for him to know himself well… and then he will decide,” he said.

The minister later attempted to clarify his comments, saying he did not mean gay children should be forced to undergo conversion therapy, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Peretz’s remarks were “unacceptable”.

“The education minister’s remarks regarding the pride community are unacceptable to me and do not reflect the position of the government that I head,” he said.

The prime minister also issued a statement saying he had personally spoken with Peretz to express his criticism.

He added the Israeli educational system “will continue to accept all Jewish children whoever they are and without any difference based on sexual orientation”.

Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, condemned the comments, saying gay conversion therapy caused extremely severe circumstances for young people, including suicide.

Israel’s LGBT Task Force, the Aguda, also demanded Peretz resign.