Likud activist Moshe Feiglin will be meeting soon with a new forum of homosexual members of the party, Feiglin and the group’s leader revealed on Saturday night.

The gay group has already met with 19 out of the 27 Likud MKs since it was founded about four months ago. Its leaders count hundreds of Likud members as part of the group but estimate that out of some 150,000 Likud members, thousands are gay.

“They asked to meet with me, and I said I would be happy to,” Feiglin said. “I think there is no need to interfere with anyone’s private life. It only becomes a problem when people choose to make an ideology out of living in a way that is considered by much of the population as immoral. I can disagree with them on this issue and still be friends with them.”

Feiglin said there are people in his Manhigut Yehudit movement who are gay. A date has not yet been set for the meeting, which the group’s leader, Dr Evan Cohen, said was initiated by both sides.

“He’s probably a lot more liberal than people would like to believe,” Cohen said of Feiglin. “We want to meet everyone in the party. We have no problem meeting with anyone.”

Cohen is a doctor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University who was born in Durban, South Africa, and moved to Israel at age nine. He said gay people should support whichever party fits their political ideology regardless of their sexual orientation.

“We feel very much at home in the Likud, which defines itself as a national-liberal party,” Cohen said. “Inside the party we have gotten nothing but support.”

Cohen said the party’s most pro-gay politicians were Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, and MK Ophir Akunis.

Even MK Tzipi Hotovely, who is religious, told them that although she opposes gay marriage, she also opposes discrimination.

Asked whether the Likud should field a gay candidate for the next Knesset, Cohen said he did not feel the only people who could advance gay rights were gay, just as he does not believe the only people who could forward feminist ideals are women.

Cohen and Renana Leviani of Likud faced off against the leaders of a gay group inside the Labor Party at a debate in Tel Aviv last Wednesday that was attended by dozens of people.

Leviani made news at the event by saying that if ministers saw that they would have the support of 4,000 Likud members it would make it easier for them to come out of the closet.

“It’s possible that there are MKs and ministers who are gay but for their electoral reasons keep it to themselves,” Cohen said. “That includes men and women, some of whom may be married but that’s irrelevant.”

Cohen said Binyamin Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to visit a gay center. He praised him for speaking openly about supporting gay rights. Dan Slyper, who faced off against Cohen in the debate, disagreed.

“I think Netanyahu is a hypocrite because he tries to present Israel as a modern progressive country when he speaks in English about the rights of the LGBT community in Israel, but on the other hand, he is afraid of saying the same thing in Hebrew because of the ultraconservative religious parties in his coalition.”

Slyper teaches civics at a Ramat Gan high school and works for Coca-Cola Israel’s computer department. He said his gay group in Labor intends to field a Knesset candidate.

Asked who won the debate, Slyper said: “The gay community as a whole won because it proved that it has representation in the large parties. The turnout at the event shows that there is growing interest in politics in our community and we hope it will continue to grow.”

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