There will be no violations of the civil rights of LGBTQ+ Israelis in Benjamin Netanyahu's future government, the incoming prime minister said in private conversations, N12 reported on Friday.
Netanyahu's comments were possibly made in reference to Noam Party head MK Avi Maoz, part of the Religious Zionists Knesset faction and a likely member of the former prime minister's future coalition.
Maoz, a Jewish anti-LGBT religious nationalist, said following his bloc's election victory on Thursday night that he will examine legal avenues to "outlaw the Pride Parade - first in Jerusalem, then in Tel Aviv" during an interview given to Army Radio.
"We will look to outlaw the Pride Parade - first in Jerusalem, then in Tel Aviv"Noam Party head MK Avi Maoz
Maoz also previously spoke in support of gay conversion therapy. "When we get in control, and the Health Ministry will be ours...we'll prioritize conversion therapy," Maoz said in a February interview, following a ban on conversion therapy approved by the outgoing government.
Religious Zionists head Bezalel Smotrich, a self-proclaimed "proud homophobe," also has a long history of making inflammatory statements aimed at Israel's LGBTQ+ community.
Last year, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in August, Smotrich claimed that the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, which he called a "huge infection party...started this whole outbreak." In 2006, he helped organize an event called the “beast parade,” in which goats and donkeys were paraded in Jerusalem in a protest against the LGBT+ pride parade in the city.
He has since expressed regret for taking part in the event, telling Haaretz: “I did it when I was young and I regret it.”
What are Netanyahu's views on LGBTQ+ rights?
Despite his future coalition partners' controversial plans, Netanyahu has held fairly tolerant and liberal views on LGBTQ+ rights in Israel throughout his political life, with the incoming prime minister expressing support for the LGBTQ+ cause publically, both directly and indirectly, in his tenures as prime minister.
Despite that, Netanyahu had refrained from meeting with LGBTQ+ activists for the majority of his second tenure in the Prime Minister's Office from 2009-2021, only meeting with an LGBTQ+ group in April 2019, a decade since his last meeting with such a group.
"Any attempt to infringe on the rights and the fabric of life of the Israeli LGBTQ+ community will lead to widespread public outcry," Israeli gay advocacy group The Aguda said in response to Friday's report, adding that they expect Netanyahu to state his support for the LGBTQ+ community "publically, rather than as a leak from a behind-closed-doors meeting."