by Leander Milbrecht
Yesterday, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a bill to ban conversion processes in general. In the first reading, the proposal was adopted by 42 votes to 36. Two more readings are needed before the bill becomes law. Nevertheless, the result of the vote led to great protest from Orthodox circles – and even endangers the currently fragile government of Israel.
The bill to abolish the inhumane practice was introduced by Nitzan Horowitz, the openly gay leader of the left-wing Meretz party. He compared conversion proceedings to murder and said that the ban would introduce measures against psychologists, which, if violated, could lead to a five-year license revocation, a fine and even prison. After the vote of the first reading, Horowitz declared his joy about the result. It was a “historic moment”. However, not everyone sees it that way.
Will the ban on conversion processes cause the whole government to collapse?
The issue of conversion proceedings is dividing the country. While psychiatrists, activists and experts attest the practice considerably more harm than good, conservative and strictly religious forces fight for the right to continue the proceedings. Education Minister Rafi Peretz was criticized last year for indicating his support for the practice, and several chief rabbis are publicly fighting for the trials, which they see as a supposed chance to “eradicate” homosexuality.
Israel’s government is currently on shaky ground. After 3 votes since April 2019 failed to produce a final result and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government, the Blue-White (Kachol Lavan) party alliance and Netanyahu’s Likud party finally agreed on a coalition with a historic compromise: Netanyahu is Prime Minister until October 2021 and Benny Gantz is his deputy. After that, the men swap roles.
This political balancing act is now further shaken. The issue of conversion procedures is dividing the government: after all members of Blue-White (Kachol Lavan) voted for the ban and the rest of the coalition voted against it, the ultra-Orthodox party alliance United Torah Judaism declared that it would no longer support the fragile coalition and would end the cooperation, reports the Jerusalem Post. The next two readings will show whether the parties will give in to this blackmail.
- 1080px-PikiWiki_Israel_7260_Knesset-Room (1): By צילום: איציק אדרי / CC BY 2.5 / wikimedia.org
- Nitzan Horowitz (Journalist, Knesset-Abgeordneter New Movement Meretz): By: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung / CC BY-SA 2.0 / wikimedia.org
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