LGBT Groups to March From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Ahead of Pride Parade

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Israelis wave flags and hold signs during a rally to protest against inequality for the LGBT community in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, July 22, 2018
Israelis wave flags and hold signs during a rally to protest against inequality for the LGBT community in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, July 22, 2018Credit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

A coalition of LGBT groups, riding the current wave of protests against an amendment to the surrogacy law that discriminates against gay men, on Wednesday announced plans for a march next week to begin in Tel Aviv and end in Jerusalem on the day of the capital’s annual Gay Pride Parade.

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The coalition also demanded that the government outlaw “conversion therapy” for LGBT minors, extend the right to surrogacy services to gay men, and budget at least 50 million shekels ($13.7 million) for the needs of the gay community.

The groups are also demanding harsher punishment for hate crimes against the community, state coverage for the cost of procedures in sexual reassignment surgery not currently covered, and a means of changing one’s gender as cited on Israeli identity cards.

The coalition of groups includes the LGBT Task Force, Israeli Gay Youth, Open House Jerusalem and gay community centers in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Be’er Sheva, the Orthodox lesbian association Bat Kol, the gay Orthodox men’s organization Havruta, the transgender association Ma’avarim, the AIDS Task Force and other groups.

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The announcement of next week’s march follows Sunday’s rally of 80,000 people in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest discrimination against the LGBT community. The rally capped a day of widespread protests and strikes throughout the country in reaction to the Knesset vote to reject an amendment to the surrogacy law that would include gay men.

Protesters in Tel Aviv blocked the Ayalon Highway for about an hour on Sunday afternoon and two protesters in Jerusalem were arrested after they blocked traffic in Paris Square. Protesters also briefly blocked main roads in Be’er Sheva and Haifa. In Afula, 200 protesters gathered and more than 1,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv for the transgender community.

Also on Sunday, the state asked the High Court of Justice for a two-day extension to submit its response to a petition demanding that same-sex couples be allowed to avail themselves of surrogacy services. This is the third request by the state for a delay since the petition was filed last year.

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In announcing the march and the community’s demands, LGBT Task Force chairwoman Hen Arieli said, “The prime minister did not approach the organizations. We are the community and no one has approached us from the government yet. I want to tell (openly gay Likud) MK Amir Ohana, we are the community, meet with us.”

Eran Globus, chairman of Open House Jerusalem said: “The public and the whole economy is with us. We can’t make possible the next murder. We call on the public to join our protest tent opposite the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. Globus was referring to the murder of Shira Banki, 16, during the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem in 2015.

A representative of Ma’avarim added: “We are dealing with an unbearable reality. Thirty percent of us are homeless, 19 percent are working as prostitutes, and 41 percent have tried to commit suicide at least once. We need your help.”

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