Israeli Knesset is Proud to Present

Author: Amihay Atali (translated by Yanir Dekel for A Wider Bridge)
Source: Yedioth Ahronot
Published: January 11, 2016

On March 23 the Knesset will mark for the first time its LGBT equality day.

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Knesset’s LGBT Lobby Leaders (from left to right): Yael German, Merav Michaeli, Michal Rozin

Last week the first publicly-out homosexual right-wing member joined the Knesset, and it’s probably a great opportunity for the Knesset members to get to know the LGBT community, up close and personal. In two and a half months the Knesset will for the first time mark its first ever LGBT equality day.

It’s a known custom in the Knesset to schedule theme-days in which the various committees dedicate their discussions to a specific subject that the Knesset sees as important, but the existence of such a day requires an official announcement by the Knesset’s chair. Lately, three members of the Knesset who lead the LGBT lobby – Yael German from Yesh Atid, Merav Michaeli from the Zionist Camp and Michal Rozin from Meretz – requested the naming of a day to promote LGBT equality. This request was made to the Knesset’s chair Yuli Adlestein, and the latter replied this week that he confirms the request and has scheduled the day as March 23.

The LGBT lobby leaders suggested a very detailed day, in which specific committees will discuss the subject, each in its own area. For example, the education committee will discuss promoting inclusion of LGBT people in the management regulations of the Education Ministry, and the steps that should be taken in the educational system when a student comes out. The work and welfare committee will discuss the process of gender change in Israel and also the gay conversion ‘therapy’ that is provided in the religious communities; the internal committee will discuss the attitude of the police towards LGBT people in general and transgender people in particular.

On the day leaders of all LGBT organizations in Israel are expected to arrive and talk with the members of the various committees, and dozens of community members are expected to attend.

According to past experience it is very likely that the orthodox religious Knesset members will reject the existence of such a day and choose not to attend, just as they were absent from the swearing- in ceremony of Amir Ohana lately, because he’s gay.

Leaders of the LGBT lobby in the Knesset said yesterday that “while we witness dramatic steps taken in the western world towards LGBT equality, in Israel there’s still discrimination and violence towards the community that is felt strongly. It’s time that the Israeli Knesset will conduct discussions about the reality of the LGBT community that will prove to the elected officials how necessary the recognition of equality is. We appreciate the Knesset’s chair for answering our request to make this day happen and hope that this will be the first step towards achieving true equality for every citizen of Israel, with no distinction as to gender and sexual orientation. Also, we thank the Executive Director of the Aguda, Oded Frid, who initiated the idea and helped to promote it.”