A Wider Bridge’s Executive Director Tyler Gregory penned this response to the anti-gay surrogacy bill that just passed the Knesset today.
I’m sad to say that we lost at the Knesset today, despite fierce opposition and broad public support for LGBTQ families. Ultra-orthodox parties within the government forced a vote on an anti-gay amendment to the surrogacy bill, which grants single women the right to surrogacy, but leaves out men and gay couples. Under the law, gay Israelis and single men who pursue surrogacy in Israel face up to three years in prison for trying to start a family, forcing them to leave the country if they choose surrogacy.
This morning, our grantee and partner, the Aguda – Israel’s LGBTQ National Task Force, called for a nationwide strike in Israel on Sunday, a first for Israel’s LGBTQ community. We applaud the Aguda for their advocacy efforts to stop the bill, and for organizing last weekend’s rally for LGBTQ families, attended by five thousand people. The community is galvanized, energized and united in the pursuit of equality. And it is inspiring.
After four decades of LGBTQ advancements, it’s developments like these that are part of a new and worrying trend in Israel — not dissimilar to our reality in the United States.
While we are not an Israeli organization, we believe that rights aren’t dictated by zip code or borders. That’s why we advance LGBTQ rights in Israel through our AWB Impact Grants, helping NGOs build the capacity they need to foster lasting social change. Here are just a few examples of the investments we’er making:
- The Aguda works in the halls of the Knesset to build relationships with members of Knesset across partisan divides. They also have a new candidate training forum, helping more LGBTQ people in Israel run for office.
- The LGBTQ Religious Community in Israel is changing attitudes toward LGBTQ identity within the Orthodox community, softening opposition to LGBTQ rights where change is needed most.
- And the Haifa Communities’ Home is helping LGBTQ individuals find community in the periphery of Israel, outside the LGBTQ-friendly bubble of Tel Aviv.
As a newlywed likely to pursue surrogacy with my husband someday, I’m taking this news personally, and I hope you will too. We may have lost last night, but the struggle for equality is far from over. We hope you’ll support A Wider Bridge as we build a stronger, more inclusive Israel. History is on our side.
Executive Director, A Wider Bridge