Israel has now become the first Middle Eastern country to ban gay conversion therapy. The therapy, known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
The bill passed its first stage in parliament, after two parties in the coalition government joined the opposition to vote in favour.
The bill, however, must still pass two more readings before it becomes law, and risks a political crisis, with religious parties unhappy at the move.
The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ), which is part of the fragile national unity government, threatened to introduce bills which the centrist Blue and White – also a member of the government – would find objectionable.
Opposition Meretz party leader Nitzan Horowitz, who co-authored the bill, said its preliminary passage marked “historic change” in Israel.
Blue and White leader and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz welcomed the result.
“Conversion therapy was born in sin and its place is outside of the law and the public norm,” he tweeted.
“We will make sure that everyone, from every background and sexual orientation in Israel, has free choice and security over their identity.”