Rejecting Criticism by LGBTQ People, Israel’s First Openly Gay Minister 'Not Certain We're a Community'

Ohana, who was booed at Jerusalem Pride, says 'the sharpest poisoned arrows came not from the right or from religious groups,' but from LGBTQ activists

Newly appointed Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana attends a Likud primaries event in Tel Aviv (then, as an MK) in Tel Aviv, February 5, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Newly appointed Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana criticized Israel's LGBTQ community on Tuesday, commenting he doubts it can even be called a "community" speaking to the first national conference of LGBTQ influencers in Tel Aviv.

“From the day we started our pride activities in Likud, the sharpest and most deadly poisoned arrows fired at us came not from the right or from religious groups, but from what is referred to as ‘the LGBT community,'" Ohana, who is Israel’s first openly gay minister, said. "It isn’t certain that we have the characteristics of a community,” he added.

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Last week Ohana was booed at the Pride March in Jerusalem by activists who see him as an opportunist not truly dedicated to advancing LGBTQ rights. “You can understand where my frustration comes from: there is a big gap between my actions and the image of me that has developed, particularly since I became a minister,” he said.

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Ohana admitted he had debated whether to come to the conference in light of the tensions with a part of the LGBT community.

“Standing before you is the MK who cast the most votes against the coalition position. I never voted against any pro-LGBT proposal, which is more than I can say of some of our great friends when they were in the coalition. When I was thrown off the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (…) I became the only one who paid a price for standing up for LGBT issues,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, Ohana also addressed the Israel Bar Association’s certification ceremony in Jerusalem, and said: “Whoever wants a strong and just judicial system, whoever wishes the legal system well, must be prepared to criticize it, and to criticize also means to change it.”

He added, “There is no avoiding the conclusion that the judicial branch is the least democratic of the three branches of government: it is the only one authority that has no checks or balances in it, other than those it deigns to decree for itself.”