Knesset holds its first LGBT rights day
The Knesset yesterday held its first ever day devoted to the rights of Israel’s LGBT community, hosting a whole range of events to discuss relevant issues.
The day’s activities, coordinated by the Knesset Lobby for the LGBT Community, included discussions on the social and cultural absorption of LGBT immigrants, treatment of the transgender community, while the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Subcommittee held a session on the army’s efforts to integrate members of the LGBT community.
Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, who heads the Knesset caucus, said she was “very excited” about yesterday’s events. Likud MK Amir Ohana, himself openly gay said, “It is a day that shows what we have done in Israel regarding LGBT rights, and gives perspective as to where we stand on this issue in relation to the rest of the world.”
However, Ohana also conceded that “we still have a lot of work” to do. It was a sentiment also expressed by Michaeli, who said that, “I’m sorry to say that the government has taken unenlightened positions,” regarding LGBT issues, saying that, “The coalition dances to [the ultra-Orthodox parties’] tune.” Ohana countered that the opposition parties too “would form a coalition with exactly the same people, and they also would be dependent on these people … It’s sad but it’s true.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the plenum to mark the occasion, saying “I came here… to say one sentence to the members of the LGBT community: ‘Every man was created in the image of God,’” quoting a Jewish principle which he said “must guide our national lives today.”
However, a report issued by Aguda, Israel’s biggest LGBT rights advocacy organisation, noted 276 reported incidents of violence, discrimination and other acts of hate against the LGBT community between August 2015 and the year’s end, a marked increase on previous figures. Although the annual Tel Aviv gay pride week is one of the world’s largest, a woman was stabbed and killed at the equivalent event in Jerusalem last