MK Amir Ohana.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
MK Amir Ohana (Likud) announced he would not be voting with the coalition Wednesday, after coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) pulled his bill to punish gender-based hate crimes the day before the Jerusalem LGBT Pride Parade.
Ohana, the Likud’s first openly gay lawmaker, proposed legislation that would add “gender identity” to the list of motives that would make an offense considered a hate crime, thus increasing the penalty for assaulting transgender individuals.
Bitan removed the bill from the agenda for Wednesday, when it was set to go to a preliminary vote.
As such, Ohana said he would not vote against the coalition, and accused Bitan of “violent” behavior.
“This is not the first time the coalition chairman went against the Likud, its values and its constitution, because of threats that the coalition will fall apart,” Ohana said. “It’s too bad that in this week, in which the Jerusalem parade is taking place, a year after the murder of Shira Banki [at the parade by a religious zealot] a bill against hate crimes, meant to prevent bloodshed and violence... is violently removed by Bitan.”
Ohana said Bitan was pandering to Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, “the most homophobic minister in the history of the State of Israel.”
The Likud MK wondered why Litzman is so afraid of the words “gender identity” to the point that he would be willing to threaten the coalition.
Bitan responded that it’s his job to take the coalition into consideration when making decisions, and that had he not removed the bill from the agenda, it would have been voted down.
A bill that is rejected cannot be proposed again for another six months.
“The fact that I removed the bill from the agenda was meant to help, and not the opposite, because now Ohana can try to convince members of the coalition; but if it would have been voted down, it would be over,” Bitan stated.
Also Wednesday, the Knesset voted to establish a Committee for Distributive Justice and Social Equality, with MK Miki Zohar (Likud) at the helm.
Zohar threatened to quit the Knesset earlier this year, with reports saying that he wanted to pursue a business opportunity. Soon after, he was promised a new title.
“As someone who comes from the periphery, I know well the neglect and wide gap in Israel between the Center and periphery in all areas,” Zohar said, promising to fight to bridge social gaps.