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Anti-Gay Surrogacy Bill Passes, The Aguda Calls for Nationwide LGBTQ Strike

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday dashed to the Knesset for the express purpose of voting against a measure that would have extended surrogacy rights to same-sex couples — two days after publishing a video explaining why he supports the idea.  In response to the passage of this anti-gay surrogacy bill, the Aguda National LGBTQ Rights organization is organizing a nationwide strike on Sunday, July 22, 2018.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 12, 2018.
(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The surrogacy bill passed the Knesset vote as expected, but without the clause allowing it for men, which was proposed by openly gay MK Amir Ohana, a member of Netanyahu’s own Likud party.

Netanyahu was acting on the demands of the ultra-Orthodox parties, which oppose giving gay men the right to father children through surrogacy, Channel 10 news reported. In return, the ultra-Orthodox parties reportedly agreed to support the Jewish nation-state bill, another controversial piece of legislation, which is up for its final votes this week.

MK Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party, called Netanyahu a “liar.”

“Two day ago during a Likud faction meeting Netanyahu said that he supports a change in the bill to enable LGBT people to become parents,” he said in a statement. “On the same day, he posted a video in which he repeated — both in words and in writing — his commitment to support the change… I have never said this before about a prime minister of Israel, but I have no choice: liar.”

In a statement, Tyler Gregory, Executive Director of A Wider Bridge, reflected on the worrisome development, and expressed optimism about the future for LGBTQ Israelis despite the legislative setback:

“LGBTQ people in Israel face mounting odds, something made clearer after the Knesset’s passage of the discriminatory legislation last night, despite fierce opposition from Israel’s LGBTQ communities and allies, and words of support from the prime minister. The ability of the ultra-orthodox parties within the government to force a vote on anti-gay legislation is yet another instance of the Israeli government highlighting its support of LGBTQ rights abroad while harming LGBTQ people at home by prioritizing coalition politics over people’s lives.”

The Aguda Israel National LGBT Task Force released a statement calling for a nationwide strike:

“This is yet another blow to the rights of the LGBTQ community after four decades of unending struggle. This is a dangerous setback. We will not sit quietly and continue life as usual. For the first time in the history of the struggle – the LGBTQ community in Israel is calling upon the LGBTQ community and allies to join a one-day nationwide strike on Sunday, July 22, Tisha B’Av.”