Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) with Likud members at the party's primaries in 2012.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
While Bayit Yehudi dealt with accusations of homophobia Thursday, the Likud hopes to have a gay MK in the next Knesset.
Gay attorney and reserve IDF major Amir Ohana, 38, won a slot on the Likud list reserved for a candidate from the Tel Aviv district, which includes Holon, Bat Yam and Jaffa. The 32nd slot he won is not considered realistic based on current polls, but Ohana said he is optimistic that he will be in the next Knesset.
“The Likud should be more ambitious,” Ohana said after the top 30 candidates on the Likud list were invited on stage at Monday’s Likud rally to sing “Hatikva” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ohana said it is important to contrast the voting record of Bayit Yehudi ministers with their Likud counterparts on gay rights legislation in the ministerial committee on legislation. He said the Likud ministers always vote for gay rights.
The Likud candidates most open about their support for gay rights include Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, and Deputy Environment Minister Ophir Akunis, said Ohana, who is one of the founders of the Likud’s LGBT group, which has hosted the candidates.
Ohana bills himself as the first closeted gay person in Israel to be elected in an open primary, unlike Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz and former Meretz MK Uzi Even, who were elected in primaries that were limited. After defeating much more experienced candidates to win the slot on the Likud list, he says being a Likud hawk and gay is no contradiction.
“One can be gay and have other views on other subjects,” he said in an interview with VoiceofIsrael.com.
“It doesn’t mean anything about my political views and my views on security and the economy. I’m a Likudnik because I have supported the Likud’s views for years.”
Ohana said the only intolerance he has experienced in politics has come from the Israeli Left. He said the LGBT group in Meretz attacks the Likud’s gay group nonstop.
“The irony is that the Left can’t form a government without the ultra-Orthodox parties,” he said. “But the Likud can. I hope we will be strong enough to do that.”
Ohana said the head of the Likud’s haredi [ultra-Orthodox] group, Ya’acov Veeder, has become like a brother to him and opposes state discrimination by sexual orientation.
He also considers as a friend MK Moshe Feiglin, who announced this week that he is leaving the Likud.
“When our LGBT group met with him for three or four hours, we could see him change his mind as we spoke,” Ohana said. “We share other views on other subjects.”