Lapid votes down gay unions bill

Despite Yesh Atid's push for civil unions for all, party's ministers reject Labor bill; Yacimovich laments missed historic opportunity.

Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade (370) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade (370)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yesh Atid ministers on Sunday voted against Labor MK Stav Shaffir’s bill allowing same-sex couples to have civil unions, even though the party is pushing a policy that would allow them.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Shai Piron, Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben- Dahan and MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) are working on a version of a civil union that coalition parties can agree on.
Shaffir’s initiative, which was rejected by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, applied only to homosexual couples and would allow them to have a civil union, not marriage. Yesh Atid’s legislation, proposed last week to great fanfare, would allow anyone who does not want to, or cannot, be married by the rabbinate to have a civil union. Another bill, by MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua), allows a civil union for anyone whom the rabbinate refuses to marry, including gays.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was the only minister to vote in favor of Shaffir’s bill.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that while the Labor bill seeks to help same-sex couples, it actually discriminates against them and turns them into second-class citizens.
Shaffir, however, said “ministers proved that their flattery of the gay community starts and ends with pride parades and Facebook statuses.”
“When it comes to action, most of them are afraid to fight extremists in the coalition,” she added, referring to the Bayit Yehudi party, which has veto power over all matters of religion and state.
Shaffir mocked Yesh Atid MKs for “running to TV studios last week to tell them they support civil unions, but when the proposal reaches their table, they reject it with various strange excuses.”
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) also criticized the government for missing a “historic opportunity.”
“It’s unfortunate and upsetting that even in the one area where Lapid and his party could have made a deep change in people’s lives and allow people of the same sex to get married, as is customary in the enlightened world, they let the conservative right in the government decide for them,” Yacimovich wrote on Facebook.
Same-sex marriage has been legalized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, New Zealand and Britain, as well as fourteen US states.
Many other countries allow same-sex domestic partnerships or civil unions, among them Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland and several US states. staff contributed to this report.