Showing posts with label Conversion Therapy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conversion Therapy. Show all posts

November 23, 2019

American Medical Association Calls For Ban on LGBTQ Conversion Therapy, Nationwide




  
The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest association of physicians, said Tuesday it officially opposed "conversion therapy" for members of the LGBTQ community and urged the federal government to ban such procedures nationwide.

"It is clear to the AMA that the conversion therapy needs to end in the United States given the risk of deliberate harm to LGBTQ people," Dr. William Kobler, a member of the AMA board, said in a statement. "Conversion therapy has no foundation as scientifically valid medical care and lacks credible evidence to support its efficacy or safety." 

Conversion therapy, according to the organization, is the discredited practice of trying to change a person's sexual identity from lesbian, gay or bisexual to heterosexual or attempting to make a transgender person identify with the gender assigned at birth. Usually, this is done through counseling. However, as previously reported by Newsweek, it can also involve methods such as electroshock therapy and deprivation treatments that are meant to cause "heterosexual adjustment." 

Medical professionals have dismissed conversion therapy as "patently false," saying it is based on the mistaken notion that same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria is "unnatural." The American Psychiatric Association made an official statement opposing conversion therapy in 1998 and has continually called for a ban on "the harmful and discriminatory practice."

Besides the lack of a scientific basis for conversion therapy, research has shown that it can be devastating to a person's mental health. A study of over 27,000 transgender adults, reported on by Newsweek in September, found that conversion therapy is linked with a higher likelihood of attempting suicide.

"The AMA agrees with medical experts that the lack of regulation on conversion therapy opens the door to fraud, harm, and trauma for many adults and children in the U.S.," the organization's statement read.

According to the Map Advancement Project, 18 states and the District of Columbia have officially banned conversion therapy. 

While conversion therapy remains legal in most states, there are movements across the country to officially ban the practice, particularly at the city level. The governments of such cities as Tallahassee, Florida, and Minneapolis have recently considered legislation that would restrict or outright ban conversion therapy.

In August, North Carolina's Democratic governor signed an executive order preventing the state's Department of Health and Human Services from using state and federal funds to provide conversion therapy to people under 18, CNN reported. The governor of Puerto Rico signed a similar executive order in March, according to The New York Times. 

{{Source: Newsweek}}


October 1, 2019

I Met a Conversion Therapist Then The Electric Shocks Came in Like Lightning in a Dark Night


 "Some electrical wires would be attached initially to my feet.
"They would give me a shock and would continue giving me a shock every 15 or 30 seconds."
John, not his real name, underwent electrical aversion therapy at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) while a student in the 1960s. He was shown pictures of naked men and given electric shocks if he was aroused. 
A spokesperson for QUB has expressed regret for the use of aversion therapy.
John had grown up in the 1950s in a rural Northern Ireland town.
"My church was a Presbyterian church, so that was quite difficult when I realized I was gay," he told BBC News NI. 





Dr Tommy DickinsonImage copyrightDR TOMMY DICKINSON
Image captionDr Tommy Dickinson said that use of electrical aversion therapy had been almost totally abandoned by the mid-1970s in the UK

"When I was about 15, I realized I am one of these people who are homosexuals and who are reviled really by the society I grew up in, so it was a big shock to me. 
"I felt totally alone."
John initially spoke to his GP who, although sympathetic, arranged counseling for him at a local hospital. 
However, when he went to QUB as a student in the late 1960s he was referred to the Department of Mental Health at the university.
"I was quite happy to go along with whatever they told me, I wanted to be cured," he said. 
The aim of electrical aversion therapy was for him to associate homosexual desire with pain or unpleasant feelings.
"I was shown a series of what, I suppose, one would regard these days as mildly pornographic images of naked young men," John said. 
"I was given duties and these were connected up with electric wires to a voltage and I would receive the shock in my feet.
"Incidentally, I found this quite horrible because I'm quite sensitive in my feet for some reason and I managed to persuade them instead to give them to my hands.
"So they then tied something to my hands and they then tied something to each hand and I would get a shock from that."

'It was pretty horrible'

John had to press a button when he felt aroused by the pictures of men.
"When I pressed the button that meant I was aroused, then after 15 or 30 seconds if I didn't press the button again they would give me a shock," he said.
"They would continue giving me a shock until I pressed the button again to say I was no longer experiencing any arousal.
"Yes it was painful, it was pretty horrible. 
"You would then associate any gay, homosexual feelings with something unpleasant - a conditioned reflex really."
John was also encouraged to date women while undergoing therapy.
In a research paper published in the Ulster Medical Journal in 1973, academics from the departments of Mental Health, Social Studies and Psychology at QUB said their use of electrical aversion therapy was rare by that stage.
But they did still use it.

No evidence treatment worked

"We have a particular interest in the use of methods for producing heterosexual interest in exclusive homosexuals," they reported.
"In fact we rarely use electrical aversion therapy, at least as a treatment of first choice, with any of the patients referred to our clinic."
According to Dr Tommy Dickinson - the Head of the Department of Mental Health Nursing at King's College London - electrical aversion therapy never became main-stream in the UK.
"Although they were administered free of charge on the National Health Service it's only been estimated that about 1,000 people ever received the treatment," he said.
"That might seem a relatively small number, but that's not to negate the negative impact that had on those people."
Dr Dickinson is the author of Curing Queers: Mental Nurses and their Patients, 1935-1974, which examines the use of aversion therapy in the UK by reporting the experiences of those who both underwent and administered it.
"There is no evidence that the treatment worked," he told BBC News NI.
"In fact, the only evidence I came across was that it had a lasting detrimental effect on these people."
Dr. Dickinson said that the use of electrical aversion therapy had been almost totally abandoned by the mid-1970s in the UK. 
"The most influential factor in reducing the use of these treatments was the growing gay liberation movement as queer men and women were uniting and refuting that sickness label that had been attributed to them," he said.




Belfast Pride 2019Image copyrightPACEMAKER
Image captionThousands attended the Belfast Pride parade in 2019

A spokesperson for Queen's University Belfast said that, regrettably, aversion therapy was used in a number of situations in the past. 
"There is no scientific support for this approach for behavior change," they said.
"The use of these techniques have for a long time not been supported by Queen's University or the NHS.
"While we cannot change practices of the past, Queen's University is fully committed to creating and sustaining an environment that values diversity and strongly supports its LGBT+ community."

'It wasn't working'

In the end, it was John who decided to call a halt to the treatment he was undergoing at Queen's.




Queen's University, BelfastImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionJohn was sent for aversion therapy at the Department of Mental Health at Queen's during the 1960s

"Eventually after a couple years of trying my best with this treatment I realized it simply wasn't working, my feelings for men were as they had always been and I just hadn't been aroused by girls too much extent at all," he said.
"I suppose it is barbaric, what can I say really; I would have done anything to become normal as I saw it.
"I don't think I've been damaged by it, I haven't suffered post-traumatic stress - I got over it.
"Luckily, fairly soon afterward I did start to meet some gay people and my life changed completely then and since then things have been much better.
"I don't know how people will react to this knowledge.
"At the time it didn't seem as barbaric to me as it sounds now." 

September 16, 2019

What Happens When A UK Podcaster Signs Up For Conversion Therapy?






James BarrImage copyright

DAN BOUNDY
{BBC}
So-called "gay conversion therapy" may be condemned by experts but it is still permitted in the UK. So what happened when gay podcast host James Barr signed up for simulated "treatment"?
I'm sitting in a room in Northern Ireland opposite a man who says he offers "talking therapy" to people who don't want to be gay. And I cannot help feeling worried - despite all the evidence I've read to the contrary, a tiny part of me believes that he may actually convince me that I can choose to stop being gay. 
The man in front of me is Mike Davidson, he's originally from New Zealand and he's invited me into his home, about 30 minutes outside Belfast. It's in a very quiet close of small houses tucked away off a side road, the type of place where everyone knows your business. Do his neighbours know what happens here? I start to feel a little uneasy. It reminds me of my home town Eastbourne and of being in the closet, hiding my secrets. 
Mike welcomes me via a side door into his tiny office and beams: "This is where we do the work." 
It's small but includes a pretty sizable DVD collection. He tells me that he loves movies about war and asks me if I feel the same. I say: "Yes, kind of." We have something in common. 

Find out more



James Barr Dan HudsonImage copyrightCORRINE CUMMING

James Barr co-hosts the podcast A Gay and a Non-Gay with his (non-gay) friend Dan Hudson (right). The pair travelled to Northern Ireland for From Gay to Non-Gay? - a three-part BBC podcast series in which they meet people who have been through so-called gay "conversion therapy". You can download it here on BBC Sounds

Mike and I take our seats and it's a pretty tight squeeze. He's a relatively friendly looking man, glasses, a cute face - the sort of person who would help you carry your shopping to the car if he saw you struggling. He seems kind. 
He also runs a Christian charity called Core Issues Trust, which, he tells me, "takes people seriously who say they want to move away from homosexual practices and feelings". His technique, he says, is to explore their past experiences and find out more about their unwanted "same-sex attraction".
"What we do is we replace those feelings," he says. 
Just under half of those he sees are non-Christians, he says, and he only works with adults.
But despite all the certificates of his achievements at university on his office wall, Mike is not a qualified doctor, and neither is he a registered therapist.
The NHS and all major therapy professional bodies say that what he's doing is unethical and potentially harmful. The UK government has said it wants to ban the practice. However, Mike is still allowed to do it, and here we are. 


Mike Davidson
Image captionMike Davidson

It's been a long time since I had an "unwanted same-sex attraction", as Mike would put it. I'm an out gay man, a comedian, I co-host the UK's biggest LGBTQ+ podcast and regularly chat about sexuality and equality both on TV, on stage and to our international podcast audience - but I remember a moment when a 13-year-old me was less confident. 
We're constantly hearing theories as to why LGBTQ+ people exist and at 13, surrounded by straight people, our predominantly heterosexual planet sowed a seed of doubt and shame in my mind about being gay. I realised my life was about to be a lot more difficult as a gay man and, for a split second, I genuinely wished I could've been straight. 
Even in 2019, it's actually pretty easy to see why you might want someone to turn you heterosexual. Homophobic hate crimes in the UK are on the rise. Recently, a survey suggested 58% of gay men are scared to hold hands with a partner in public. A lesbian couple were attacked on a London bus in a suspected hate crime which shocked the country.
This is why I am interested in Mike. Is he motivated by homophobia, or does he actually think he's helping people who don't want to be gay? And if he is, is that OK? 
And so Mike simulates one of his therapy sessions with me. He asks me if I've had any past trauma. 
I reply that when I was younger I was bullied for being ginger, and as I grew older I was bullied for being gay. I tell him about a time when someone kicked me at the bus stop. 
Then I ask him if he has a theory as to why that would make me gay. 
He replies: "I don't think any one thing gives people same-sex attraction… but if that's your existence at school, it's bullying. And I'm not surprised that maybe you become distant from other males."
His voice is soft, he's sympathetic and for the most part this feels like a normal therapy session, but it isn't. I remind myself that he isn't a real psychotherapist. I know I'm here as a reporter but I'm vulnerable - this is all so personal.


The Northern Irish coast

In July 2018, the UK government published an LGBT Action Plan in which it says it wants to ban "harmful" gay conversion therapy across the UK. According to a national survey, 2% of British gay people have been through it and 5% have been offered it. 
The government says that over half of those that offer this are faith groups - not just Christian - and although Mike operates in Northern Ireland, it happens across the UK. 
Before I visit Mike, I meet a young man on the Northern Irish coast called Josh Lyle. He's gay and Christian - his granny used to be a preacher and the church is a huge part of life where he lives. He tells me that in Northern Ireland your religion isn't just a faith, it's part of your identity. 
He remembers how one day at his church he walked past a rack of pamphlets. "There was one called 'Bringing your child back to God' and it was essentially a book telling parents how to make their gay children straight." 
He's experienced a lot of homophobia. As he walks around town, people regularly shout abuse and he was recently spat at. So he says he understands, in a way, why someone might feel they want to turn to conversion therapy. 


Quote: "The doctors told me my body was at war with itself"

"It can be really tough to grow up as a gay kid and if someone came to you when you're feeling at your worst, coming to terms with who you are, and said, 'I have this magic wand that will make you better, do you want me to wave it?' You'd be very tempted to say yes." 
However, the consequences of doing so can be extremely harmful. Former Christian singer Vicky Beeching spent most of her life trying to suppress her own attraction to women and tried various forms of gay conversion therapy, from prayer and exorcisms to talking therapy. 
One day she noticed strange white patches on her skin. She went to the doctor and she was told she had developed an auto-immune disease called scleroderma.
"The doctors told me my body was at war with itself. They said they believed trauma and stress and specifically my journey with suppressing my sexuality and all the shame around that, they believed that led to all these problems with my immune system," she says. 
Vicky sold millions of records worldwide, including her hit, Above All Else, which she says in hindsight perhaps perfectly sums up her willingness to suppress her own sexuality for Jesus's love. She has since written a book explaining why she believes you can be both a Christian and gay. 


A man in a rainbow flag watches a Christian protest against the Belfast Pride paradeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

As I sit opposite Mike, I realise we're mirroring each other's body language. We both have our legs crossed. 
I'm curious to find out more about why Mike ended up doing this. 
He explains that he grew up in the Church, and when he had homosexual feelings he felt ashamed and wanted to move away from them.
"I always felt other - I always felt different and excluded. I wasn't great at sport." He says he was emotionally disconnected from his father - a war veteran who was great at rugby and cricket. "I said to myself, 'Well if that's being a man,' referring to my father, 'I don't want anything to do with that.'" 
For most young men, he says, "it's almost as though they're drawn to the mysteriousness, to the otherness of the female. Now for me, males felt other. Because I didn't feel like one."
He says he went through a form of conversion therapy himself and it helped him realise why he had those feelings.
It's at this point I start to challenge Mike.


Quote: "I have the right and the freedom to identify and to live as I choose"

I'm more convinced than ever that the reason I'm gay is not because I was bullied - and it's not because I chose to be gay. It's because I was born gay, and no-one needs to explain it or ask why. I just am. I love exactly the same way that everybody else loves.
The NHS and every major therapy body says that efforts to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies are unethical and potentially harmful. Are they all wrong? "If you do research only from one point of view, and you can only get research money if you hold one point of view, then you're going to come up with one point of view," he replies.
But people who come to him are vulnerable, I tell him, and he's misleading them by telling them they can suppress their thoughts.
"I've never used the word 'suppression'," he says. "What I believe in is transformation." He admits he will sometimes see a man and think that he's attractive. "It may be my age, but I don't have that deep longing for an emotional attachment with a man, or a sexual encounter." 
Then I ask him: What if it's not true that the feelings gay people have can just be replaced? What if, in fact, he's still gay?
He looks into the distance for a moment, and for a second I wonder if I my words may have changed his thinking. He looks at me and says: "Even if that's right, I have the right and the freedom to identify and to live as I choose."


James Barr in Belfast
Image captionJames Barr in Belfast

Hearing that, I feel sorry for him. 
I tell Mike that I think he genuinely does believe he's doing the right thing. I hope that if he were brought up today, in a less homophobic environment, he would be comfortable being who he was. 
He offers me a coffee, and I decline. I'd like to leave as soon as possible, but part of me wants to give him a hug. I genuinely feel so sad that someone can be so misled - but I leave. I don't remember if we shake hands, even. In the car, I listen to Gloria Gaynor.

McKrae Game

The founder of one of the US's biggest conversion therapy programmes, McKrae Game, came out as gay earlier this year, and apologised for harming generations of people.
After struggling to suppress his own homosexuality, Game founded his Truth Ministry in 1999, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, rebranding it in 2013 as Hope for Wholeness. The organisation operated in at least 15 states.
"I was a religious zealot that hurt people," he told the Charleston-based Post and Courier newspaper
Seventeen US states have banned gay conversion therapy - most recently Maine, which took the step in May this year.

It's Sunday, and I meet Josh and his granny, Marie Hodgen, outside All Souls Church in Belfast. Josh was scared to come out to his granny, the former preacher. But she more than accepted him. She went back through the Bible and studied its words again. 
"When he came out, I couldn't say it was wrong," she tells her grandson. "I love you, Josh. There's no strings attached. I will always love you unconditionally." 
Their story overwhelms me.
This is their first time at church together since Josh read that "How to not be gay" pamphlet all those years ago.
As Josh and I walk inside, we both feel anxious. But the minister welcomes both of us. This is an inclusive church that believes in love of all kinds. Josh and his granny cry. I cry. 
We sit listening to the minister's words of acceptance. He's telling us that he's excited for his up-and-coming Pride service. Marie looks up and reads out loud a scripture inscribed across the idyllic church's wall: "Sing a new song to the Lord."

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September 14, 2019

NY is Forced To Drop The Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy


This is another sample of the power of those who want less of us by using any means possible. Whether it hurt us or killed us is not important.




By Associated Press
A New York City law banning so-called gay conversion therapy would be repealed under legislation introduced Thursday over concerns that a pending federal lawsuit could lead to a decision unfavorable to the LGBTQ community if the case were to make it to the Supreme Court.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson introduced the repeal in what he called “a painful decision.”
The council had passed the ban against the widely discredited practice, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, less than two years ago, at the end of 2017, and it took effect last year.                                                                     NBC OUT
The proposed repeal now goes to a committee hearing, scheduled for next week, and then would have a vote in the full council and, if it is passed, would be signed by the mayor.
“After intense deliberation, the council concluded that it was best to take this drastic step,” Johnson said in a statement. “The courts have changed considerably over the last few years, and we cannot count on them to rule in favor of much-needed protections for the LGBTQ community. To be clear, this alleged therapy is barbaric and inhumane, but repealing this law seemed to be the best path forward.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom had filed a federal lawsuit over the ban in January on behalf of a therapist in Brooklyn, saying it violated free speech between a therapist and client. Alliance Senior Counsel Roger Brooks said that if the repeal goes through, the organization would “commend the move.”
He called the law “really quite extreme” and pushed back against the idea that it was vulnerable only because of a more conservative Supreme Court.
“It’s not so much a political issue as well-established First Amendment law,” he said.
A New York state ban that applies only to minors would still be in effect.
The therapy has been banned for minors in other states, as well. Brooks said there are currently challenges to some of those laws by other organizations, which he expected would continue.

July 26, 2019

GOP Push Back to Amazon To Sell Conversion Therapy Books But A Doctor Warns Them



                                    


After Amazon announced it would ban controversial books on gay conversion therapy, a group of House Republicans has accused the company of censoring free speech. But as family physician Dr. Natasha Bhuyan tells Newsweek, it is doctors like her who are left to pick up the pieces when LGBT folk endure the discredited practice and suffer its side effects.

Earlier this month, the tech giant said it would stop selling books by late clinical psychologist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who claimed his so-called "reparative therapy" could stop people being attracted to members of the same sex. His books include titles like A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality and Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality. Such approaches are rejected by the medical community, with the American Psychological Association concluding in 2009 that there is insufficient evidence to back claims they can change sexual orientation.

According to a handout seen by Vice News, which the outlet said was shown at a private meeting in the Capitol, the Republican Study Committee accused Amazon of "choosing to censor speech."

"Catholic psychologist, author, and therapist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi (deceased) penned multiple books to assist men struggling with unwanted homosexual attractions, feelings, and lifestyles," the document read according to Vice News. Over 70 percent of GOP House members are part of the caucus, the website stated. The Republican Study Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek or Vice.


In light of the reported pressure from the committee, Newsweek spoke to Dr. Natasha Bhuyan: a family physician in Phoenix, Arizona, that has treated multiple patients who have experienced gay conversion therapy. She told of how patients can struggle with health problems for years after their treatment stops—with some even taking their own lives.
therapy, counseling, mental health, stock, Getty.

A stock image of a girl undergoing therapy. Mock-therapy sessions can constitute so-called gay conversion therapy. 

What can gay conversion therapy involve, and what are some of the most extreme cases you have encountered?

Gay conversion therapy involves behavioral and psychological abuse to try to change LGBTQ people. Per the American Psychological Association, this has included talk therapy rooted in shame, electric shock therapy, hypnosis and even more extreme Pavlovian methods to induce vomiting from patients while showing them homoerotic images and snapping their wrists with a rubber band. These techniques have all been discredited and are extremely dangerous.

What are the risks associated with gay conversion therapy?

There are many proven risks to conversion therapy, including an increased risk of depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt, stress and even suicide. Gay conversion therapy can have a tremendous impact on day-to-day life, even leading to feelings of anger, a loss of friends or potential partners, self-hatred and emotional disconnection with future partners.

Do you agree that banning these books on Amazon is "censorship," as the Republican Study Committee claims? Do you think they should be banned? If so, why?

Dangerous and homophobic literature should be kept off the Amazon platform in the best interest of the safety of the public. Conversion therapy has proven, harmful effects on the long-term health of people who are LGBTQ, including increasing their risk of depression, anxiety, insomnia, suicide, and substance abuse.

How dangerous was Dr. Joseph Nicolosi? Is he notorious in the medical profession? Could he be compared to Andrew Wakefield, the discredited former doctor who falsely claimed the MMR vaccine causes measles?

Joseph Nicolosi does not have any prominence or notoriety in the medical community as his theories have been thoroughly debunked by science. He attempted to use science to lend credibility to an anti-LGBTQ movement; however, every mainstream medical organization (including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association) has denounced his work. 

Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a practicing family physician in Phoenix, AZ, who has treated multiple patients who have experienced years of negative effects of gay conversion therapy.
What have some of your own patients gone through?

One of my patients suffered from anxiety and depression as a result of conversion therapy. He grew up in the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) community and members of his faith organization encouraged his parents to pursue conversion therapy. He also ended up with a fractured family relationship and support.

July 22, 2019

Jerusalem Post: "Conversion Therapy Can Kill"


In a nation in which the Education minister supports putting gays particularly young ones through the ovens of homophobes to change who they are and who care less about the damage they do. Jews should remember about that and in the US the majority of jews do know that (exception hazzidics). Adam



20-year-old religious Zionist yeshiva student from Jerusalem, who asked to remain anonymous, said he wanted to cry when he heard Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz say last week that he recommends LGBT people undergo conversion therapy.

His reaction was similar to that of many LGBT people who have suffered through conversion therapy, a multifaceted form of psychotherapy that attempts to “convert” a gay person to heterosexuality.

Shay Bramson, deputy director of the religious gay support and advocacy group Havruta, said he was “very angry. It was really stupid because he’s not a physician, he’s not a social worker, he’s not a therapist in any way – and yet he claimed to understand and know how to do [conversion therapy] and that he himself performed conversion therapy, although he wasn’t so clear about that.” He pointed out that as a minister, parents might respect him and therefore choose to send their kids to such therapy.

Conversion therapy has been called “dangerous” and “ineffective” by Israeli psychological associations, Bramson said.

Bramson himself is gay and religious, and said that growing up he struggled with his sexuality, thinking that “a gay man is a very bad person… God doesn’t want it and I wanted to be very close to God. I wanted to be very religious; I was very religious.”

He was also afraid of how those around him would react. Therefore, he chose to try conversion therapy at Atzat Nefesh, an organization he found through the Internet.

Atzat Nefesh was wary at first to treat him since he was only 13 and a half, and it is illegal to treat a minor without parental consent. Bramson emphasized that he was treated by a psychotherapist who was a professor at Bar Ilan University, although he knew that some people who had “enjoyed the services” of conversion therapy were consulted by people who weren’t psychotherapists and who had no academic or professional license or education. 

During therapy, they emphasized traumatic events and told him that he had a very masculine mother and that his father was absent.

”He tried to put the narrative that would make sense [as to] why I’m gay,” Bramson explained. “They looked for criminal tendencies in the family and addiction. I didn’t feel like it actually fit my story.”

Bramson told The Jerusalem Post that part of the therapy was “to punish myself and to give myself penalties if I think about boys.”

He was also warned that being gay is not okay – not just religiously, but also because “gay people are often secular and live in Tel Aviv, and they have AIDS and other sexual diseases, and were lonely and suicidal and have no family.”

“I didn’t know any of this... so I actually believed him,” Bramson explained, noting that he was also scared that if his parents found out that he was gay they would kick him out of the house.

“I would have no life anymore,” he said.

Around that same time, they were learning in yeshiva about a rule in Jewish law that in certain cases, you must choose to die rather than transgress a prohibition, which led Bramson to contemplate suicide. “I tried to do it and, luckily, I failed.”

THE ANONYMOUS 20-year-old yeshiva student’s story is more modern, but not so different. When he was 13, he first understood that he was gay. He kept it inside until at age 19 when he decided to try conversion therapy.

People in the religious Zionist community “believe that if you don’t try conversion therapy, you’re not religious,” the student explained. “Conversion therapy is in the DNA of religious Zionism... [and] a form of psychological terrorism.

“There’s a lot of anger at your parents and shouting,” he continued. “It was explosive.”

The therapists “tell you that if you work until the end, you’ll get out of being gay, but since this isn’t the case, they end up opening deep wounds and not closing them,” the student said. “At the end of a day of therapy, you would simply cry for hours.”

He said that he thought it was just not working for him in the beginning and that this feeling was just part of the therapy – until after a few months he realized that the reason he felt bad was that it was not working.

In a Facebook post, Ze’ev Goren, 20, explained that “Being a gay religious Jew in the [religious] community is one dimensional. ‘You’re gay? You’re not a part of it.’

“There’s no issue with conversion therapy per se,” wrote Goren, “but these treatments are based on lies. Throughout every treatment, they say, ‘you have a choice how to live’ – but you don’t. ‘You have a choice in what to believe’ – but you don’t.”

In other words, he explained that in the religious community, one who chooses to live as openly gay is ostracized for being different.

“The platform is simple: Live like us or die,” wrote Goren, explaining that conversion therapy is the choice for people who feel helpless and afraid of being out of the closet, and hence kicked out of their community.

Furthermore, those interviewed said that conversion therapy has had lasting effects on them.

“Suicidal thoughts scour your soul and leave wounds on you that affect your whole life afterward,” said Bramson. “Depression, self-hatred, suicidal thoughts: That’s what I was left with. Even 16 years after this, it still affects me today. Not the exact feeling of self-hatred – now I have self-confidence and a new identity – but still, things affect you.”

According to the student, the conversion therapists keep an eye on anyone who goes through the process and even afterward.

“They tail you to make sure you’re on track and that you’re not speaking trash about the therapy,” he explained.

After his initial comments in support of conversion therapy, Peretz clarified that he would never force anyone to do conversion therapy, but would just present it as a viable option. Later, he denied that he supports conversion therapy, saying: “I know that conversion therapy is illegitimate and severe. This is my unambiguous position.”

Neither the clarification nor the retraction made the original statement any less harmful, Bramson and the others told the Post.

“I wasn’t forced to go to conversion therapy, I wanted to do it,” explained Bramson. “Still, it was dangerous for me.”

He emphasized that the issue “is not a black and white option of being religious and straight or being gay and secular. There is a very healthy, happy and growing community of religious LGBT people in Israel. They’re accepted in their communities and synagogues; they’re happy.

“It’s not the end of the world,” he continued. “It will be better if your kid will be gay and alive and happy, than in the closet and hating himself – or marrying a woman [based] on lies without her knowing about the sexual orientation of her husband.



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