An activist waves an LGBT flag near Israel's Knesset building.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After the government vetoed five bills intended to improve gay rights in the country last Wednesday – one day after the unprecedented creation of an LGBT rights day – community activists and opposition party leaders protested the rejection on Saturday night.
Demanding equality, some 200 members of the LGBT community denounced the development as hypocritical outside government buildings in Jerusalem.
The bills, introduced by the opposition intended to recognize civil unions, ban conversion therapy of minors, and force physicians to study sexual orientation in medical school, were uniformly rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition.
Noting the incongruity of approving a gay rights day, only to reject specific measures to improve the quality of life among LGBT citizens, the Zionist Union condemned the coalition for using members of the LGBT community for “public relations.”
“In the moment of truth,” the party said in a statement, the government abandoned the marginalized group by opposing the very laws presented to strengthen it.
Despite the defeat, over the weekend Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz (Likud) boosted funding for social workers and psychologists serving the LGBT community after Likud MK Amir Ohana pointed out that there was a pronounced shortage.
The budget for mental health professionals for gays was created in 2009 following the murder of two gay men at a club in Tel Aviv.
Ohana, who is openly gay, came under fire last week for absenting himself from the vote on the gay rights bills proposed on Wednesday. He said his vote on the bill did not matter, but the funding he obtained from Katz would save lives.
“I am obligated to help the LGBT community, but I will do it my way, not the opposition’s,” he said.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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