Joint List MK Walid Taha found himself mired in controversy on Monday after breaking away from his party's leadership to claim that homosexuality in the Arab community is "almost nonexistent,' following a preliminary Knesset vote to ban gay conversion therapy.
Taha called the bill banning conversion therapy “particularly problematic,” noting that it went against the views of “the vast majority of the society that elected him.”
The Joint List is a broad, ideologically diverse political alliance made up of four smaller political parties which include communists, socialists, feminists, Islamists and Arab nationalists.
Following the vote, Taha, who represents the Ra’am faction of the Joint List, told Israel's national broadcaster Kan that the “phenomenon of gays is almost nonexistent in Arab society," adding that if it exists at all it is “of limited dimension.”
The schism came after Joint List leader Ayman Odeh voted in support of the bill in its initial reading in the Knesset last week.
"The issue is not debated in Arab society [and] if it exists, it is on a very small scale, and those who suffer from it are in no rush to identify themselves," Taha said, adding that he felt that same-sex relationships were unnatural.
He added: "Homosexuals have the right to undergo treatment to change their sexual character...This law prevents them from [receiving] treatment that would bring them back to normal."
On Saturday, the Ra'am faction leader warned that the future of the Joint List could be in jeopardy due to Odeh's support for the bill.
Reprinted with permission from i24NEWS.