Israeli Ministers Vote Down Gay Rights Bills on Eve of LGBT Rights Day in Knesset

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews pray during a protest in Jerusalem against the gay pride parade, 2010.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews pray during a protest in Jerusalem against the gay pride parade, 2010. Credit: Reuters

Three bills concerning the status of the LGBT community in Israel were voted down by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and the vote on two others was postponed on Sunday, a day before the Knesset marks LGBT Rights Day.

One of the laws, sponsored by MK Yael German (Yesh Atid), would have banned bigoted catcalls at sporting events based on gender identity or sexual preference. Another, sponsored by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), would have required training for educational professionals on the issues of gender and sexual preference; and another sponsored by MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) would ban discrimination against students based on gender of sexual preference.

Two other laws, one banning conversion therapy for minors, and one on civil unions were postponed for a week.

“The Haredi parties are blocking the advancement of bills on issues of the [LGBT] community, and sometimes Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu join them,” said a source in Likud, adding, “This is a homophobic coalition.” The chances that any of these initiatives from opposition parties will be passed by the ministerial committee is small, he added.

“The fear of the Haredi parties and narrow coalition considerations leave the members of the [LGBT] community discriminated against in the law books,” said Rozin. “Last year, the prime minister said in the Knesset plenum that every person was created in the image [of God]. This year, he must add content to this statement and act in favor of full equality for the gay community.”

The bill banning conversion therapy, initially sponsored by German – who found 37 other MKs, including three from the coalition, to join her – would ban “advising or treatment with the goal of trying to change the sexual tendencies of a minor to heterosexual, or to try to change their gender identity.”

MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) will try to advance a bill this week allowing anyone to adopt a child, including gay couples, and whether married or not. The present situation only allows married heterosexual couples to adopt, though gay people are allowed to adopt as “individuals.”

“The surrender of Likud and Kulanu to the religious and Haredim is a betrayal of the [LGBT] community,” said German.

“It is saddening and outrageous that Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu uses LGBT rights only for purposes of promoting foreign relations, and only when it is convenient,” said Khenin.

“The Netanyahu coalition specializes in legislation that creates discrimination and inequality toward everyone who does not think like them. It should be no surprise that during the week in which we are marking the day of rights for the gay community in the Knesset, they are not even bothering to present legislation on behalf of [this cause],” said Michaeli.

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