The Jerusalem Conference was to hold a panel in favor of conversion therapy on February 23rd 2015.
Following efforts by LGBTQ activists and political leaders to express concern over the bias of the panel, the session titled was changed to “Dealing with homosexuality in religious society”, and organizers added a panelist who opposes conversion therapy.
Coalitions of LGBTQ organizations, led by the Jerusalem Open House (JOH), organized a group to join the audience and lend support to their panelist but were refused tickets by organizers on the grounds that they were planning to disrupt the panel.
Following negotiations between Elinor Sidi, the Executive director of the JOH, and the CEO of the Be’Sheva newspaper, who are producing the event, the organizers agreed to allow JOH activists to enter and vouched for their security. Organizers also agreed to add Prof. Nurit Yirmiya, the Chief Scientist of Israel, to the panel in an attempt to balance the discussion.
Elinor Sidi: “I made it clear that our intentions are to stand with rainbow flags in front of the speakers and to demonstrate against homophobia and the delegitimization of the entire LGBT community by prescribing conversion therapy for them. By no mean do we intend on garbing microphones of shutting down the conference.”
This is not the first time the Jerusalem Open House had to intervene in order to secure the fair treatment of LGBTQ activists in the city. Just last week the Jerusalem Municipality tried backtrack on its promises to fund the Jerusalem Drag Race following threats by conservative city council members. Only after the intervention of the Jerusalem Open House, the city agreed to fulfil its commitment to organizers. Still the city refuses to openly support LGBTQ cultural events.