Rabbis, therapists and religious homosexuals have welcomed conclusions published by the Israeli Psychological Association on "conversion therapy",
defining the document as "good news".
According to the religious leaders, the important thing is the fact that the committee believes a patient should be presented with the existing knowledge, which warns against reparative therapy, but that the possibility to change a person's sexual orientation should not be ruled out completely.
Rabbi Arale Harel, who supports conversion therapy, told Ynet that he analyzed the Psychological Association's stand along with therapists from his sector, and that he sees it as a source of encouragement for those supporting sexual orientation change efforts.
He said that he himself believed it was possible among some homosexuals, but not all.
According to Rabbi Harel, the bottom line is that the official psychological organization does not ban conversion therapy, as in some European countries, and even instructs professionals on how to carry out the treatments without causing damage to patients.
"Perhaps I would paint the document with a more optimistic color in regards to the success rate," he said, "but it basically supports the balanced approach I believe in."
Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, vice chairman of the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential, expressed his satisfaction with the move as well.
"I'm glad to see that the Psychological Association is legitimizing conversion treatments, and even if it doesn’t encourage them – it doesn’t rule them out. This is good news.
"The committee is basically saying that if we do it right and carefully, it's not harmful. This report supports and strengthens those involved in this issue," he said.
"I haven’t investigated the matter, and I understand researchers have been very vague about it, but I have met organizations involved in it and patients who have testified that their problem was solved – or, alternatively, that they were mentally harmed by the treatment.
"In general, I think a person should make an effort to examine the extent to which he is able to deal with his sexual inclination and to try to change it to the desired direction according to the Torah."
According to Rabbi Feuerstein, in psychology there are different methods to deal with a slew of problems, and that there is usually not a single method that works for everyone.
"If the world knew exactly what was good and what wasn't – there would be only one method," he said. "So the important thing is that the treatments don't cause damage, as their ultimate goal is mental health."
Rabbi Ron Yosef of the Hod organization (an acronym for religious gays in Hebrew) told Ynet that he had asked the Psychological Association himself to discuss conversion therapy, adding that he was pleased with the conclusions and calling on therapists to implement them.
"Rabbis and educators must take caution when dealing with men with homosexual tendencies, and be careful not to get the psychological-professional elements involved with the educational-religious elements," he said.
"The Hod organization supports a clear statement that it is possible to sustain a religious life even with a homosexual orientation," Yosef wrote in an official response published on his website.
"At the same time, we believe the possibility to start a family according to Jewish Law, while impartially taking the elements of the patient's personality into account, should be examined.
"I call for full transparency on the part of therapists, including presenting their full plans and all types of basic practices, issuing a statement on the therapist's professional training and statistical information on success rates."