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LGBT community pledges support for MK Abesadze
By LAHAV HARKOV
14/11/2012
Kadima lawmaker, who is running in Labor primary, voted against coalition to support marriage equality bill.
 
Though MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima) held an official press conference with Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich late last month to say she will be running in the Labor primary, she made an unofficial announcement the night before.

Less than 24 hours before her press conference, Abesadze attended an event for gay Labor supporters, continuing her advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Israelis as co-chair of the Knesset caucus against homophobia.

This week, leaders of 13 LGBT organizations pledged their support for Abesadze’s candidacy in the November 29 primary.

A letter backing Abesadze was signed by leaders of the Israel AIDS Task Force; the Israel Gay Youth Organization; the National Association of GLBT in Israel; Hevruta, the group for religious homosexuals in Israel; Bat Kol – Religious Lesbian Organization; and others.

The leaders of Israel’s LGBT community wrote that Abesadze “spearheaded the struggle against expressions and incidents of homophobia.”

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The letter described the aspiring Labor MK’s efforts in the Knesset caucus against homophobia, which included inviting representatives of the World LGBTQ Summit to meetings and convening an emergency meeting condemning homophobic remarks by other MKs, such as Anastasia Michaeli (Yisrael Beytenu) and Uri Ariel (National Union).

In addition, the letter mentioned Abesadze’s legislation to “streamline and open the process of surrogacy in Israel and facilitate civil marriage in the country.”

When Kadima was in the coalition earlier this year, Abesadze rebelled against party discipline to vote in favor of a marriage equality bill by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the only openly gay member of the 18th Knesset.

“Unfortunately, only a few elected officials in the Knesset are willing to work openly on behalf of the LGBT community. Thus, we hope to see MK Nino Abesadze continue to serve in the Knesset as a champion of full equality for all Israelis – regardless of religious beliefs, race, gender or sexual preference,” the letter concluded.

Abesadze responded to the LGBT community leaders, saying she will fight for their rights in the next Knesset.

“Together we will work for a change in the way the State of Israel understands [LGBT citizens] and promote a more equal and liberal Israel where you will have the equal right to get married and have children like anyone else,” the MK said.
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