Neil Ward via Flickr

More and more places are banning the use of the discredited gay ‘cure’ therapy.

The Israel Medical Association (IMA), which represents 90% of the doctors in Israel, has become the latest body to ban the use of the discredited gay ‘cure’ therapy.

The policy, which was announced earlier this week, said: “There is a special danger in referring children and teenagers to treatment meant to change one’s sexual orientation.

“A comprehensive review of studies and position papers from other organisations showed an agreement that there is no place for any treatment based on the assumption that homosexuality is a disease or a disorder that requires treatment.”

The statement added: “The treatments to change one’s sexual orientation have been found to be ineffective and could cause mental damage, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies.”

Many other medical associations signed up to the IMA statement, including the Israel Psychiatric Association, the Israeli Adolescent Medicine Society, the Israel Pediatric Association, the Society to Promote Health in the LGBT Community, the Israel Association of Family Physicians and the Israel Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Association.

However, despite the positive move, some activists are worried about the unlicenced practices that carry out the treatment. One such place is JIFGA, formerly known as the Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing.

The group claimed to have the ability to change a client’s sexual orientation, but was forced to close down after a New Jersey court found it guilty of consumer fraud for offering such practices. It subsequently relaunched as JIFGA.

Speaking to Reuters, Chen Arieli, the chairwoman of the Israeli LGBT Association said: “We need to have a holistic approach regarding conversion treatment.

“Our goal is to strengthen the religious LGBT organisations, to help them outreach [to] those youth that may be at risk of having conversion treatment.” She also expressed fears that the ban might make it harder to eliminate the practice in conservative areas where it’s mostly practiced.

Julien Bahloul, a spokesman for the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, expressed hope that the Israeli parliament would pass a law to ban the practice. “The fact that professional people, doctors, say today that this kind of therapy . . . is not acceptable and not in any way related to medicine is a huge victory for us,” he said.

Nadav Schwartz, an LGBTQ activist in the country, once underwent gay ‘cure’ therapy, and explained to Ynet what happened. “I approached an organization called the Soul’s Advice. They assigned me with a therapist who wasn’t at all qualified, and told me that my father ‘made me gay’ and that after the therapy I will no longer be attracted to men,” he said.

“I know some men who were ordered to secretly stalk women and take their picture, or masturbate over pictures of women. Some suffered physical punishment, like being beaten, because they were attracted to men.”

Earlier this week, Denver in Colorado banned the use of gay ‘cure therapy. The landmark moment came after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and two city council members submitted the proposal to the Denver City Council committee last month.

“This is a very proud moment for my administration, for members of City Council, and for everyone in Denver who values inclusion and acceptance,” Hancock said in a statement.

“Tonight’s vote to ban conversion therapy our city coming together and saying with one voice that we will never allow our LGBTQ+ youth to be the targets of these dubious practices, and that we are here to support them.”

There are currently only 14 states that ban conversion therapy for minors: New Jersey, California, Oregon, IllinoisVermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, NevadaWashingtonHawaiiDelaware, Maryland and New Hampshire.