MKs debate at Jerusalem Open House

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin joined representatives from many of the left-wing parties at gay and lesbian community center.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
December 17, 2012 22:05
2 minute read.
Pride flags being waved next to Israeli flags

Gay Pride flags 370. (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

 
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Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin joined representatives from many of the left-wing parties on Monday night at the Jerusalem Open House, a gay and lesbian community center, for a debate focusing on issues important to the GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer) community.

Party representatives Shlomo Molla (Tzipi Livni Party), Dov Henin (Hadash), Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) Nino Abesadze (Labor), and Michal Roisin (Meretz) also spoke for the event.

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Rivlin urged gay voters to vote according to their political ideology, not just their social ideology.

“Patronizing the gay community is absolutely unacceptable,” he told the packed room of 150 people. “But vote for who you want to take action, not just for someone like you.”

The comment was aimed at Meretz, whose liberal agenda and openly gay Knesset member have made it a popular political home for gay young people.

The fiery oration from Roisin appealed to the largely liberal group, many of whom wore bright green Meretz shirts.

“Social justice doesn’t end at the Green Line,” she said. “If you are really passionate about equality, no group steps on another group or discriminates against another group.”



There were, however, quite a few conservative participants, including founders of the Gay Likud activism group.

Open House director Elinor Sidi said she was thrilled with the turnout, especially Rivlin’s decision to attend.

“At the end of the day the Knesset is about legislation, and not talking... I really hope we’ll be able to work with them,” she said, noting all of the panel participants are expected to become MKs.

Sixty-year-old Jerusalem resident Eitan said he had hoped to hear more specific details about how the parties would vote on issues important to the gay community, including civil marriage for same sex partners. Many of the politicians were intentionally vague about a possible vote legalizing gay marriage, instead stressing their support and respect for the gay community.

“Things were very grey,” said Adi, 40, also from Jerusalem.

“Yes, we support you, you deserve rights like everyone else, but they didn’t talk about specifics and they didn’t show they really understand issues that are important to us,” she said. “It was interesting to hear everyone, but Rubi [Rivlin] doesn’t represent his party, he’s the exception and he’s not the typical Likudnik and certainly not the typical Yisrael Beytenu.”

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