WATCH: BGU students protest anti-LGBTQ+ org. on campus

The protest was organized by BGU students in partnership with the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel and other local organizations.

 Students and faculty demonstrate in support of the LGBTQ+ community at Ben-Gurion University on January 18, 2023.   (photo credit: YUVAL BAGNO)
Students and faculty demonstrate in support of the LGBTQ+ community at Ben-Gurion University on January 18, 2023.
(photo credit: YUVAL BAGNO)

Over one hundred students and faculty members at Ben-Gurion University participated in a demonstration on Wednesday against attempts to create an anti-LGBTQ+ group at the university.

The protest was also held more generally in light of recent public discourse surrounding the rights of LGBTQ+ people and minorities. 

The group is an outcropping of the larger organization Choosing the Family. According to the Beersheba chapter's Facebook page, the group "aims to strengthen and promote family values in society and in the country against the trends of disintegration in the country and the world, with the understanding that the family is the cornerstone of the existence of society and the people."

At Ben-Gurion, the group "strives to promote family values in the academic space in general and especially in the Negev, to... sharpen simple concepts that have been blurred recently, through objective academic tools, and thus to ... strengthen the family values and the family institution in Israeli society," according to their Facebook page. 

The demonstrators have university backing

The protest was organized by BGU students in partnership with the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel (also known as The Aguda), the Pride House in Beersheba and the BGU campus chapter of Achva, an Israeli national organization that supports LGBTQ+ university students. 

 Students and faculty demonstrate in support of the LGBTQ+ community at Ben-Gurion University on January 18, 2023.  (credit: YUVAL BAGNO) Students and faculty demonstrate in support of the LGBTQ+ community at Ben-Gurion University on January 18, 2023. (credit: YUVAL BAGNO)

Ben-Gurion University did not authorize any of the anti-LGBTQ+ group's activities, and the group's announcement of an official presence on campus earlier in January was met with a threat of legal action from the university, whose policy requires all official clubs be approved by the student union. 

Students and faculty demonstrate in support of the LGBTQ+ community at Ben-Gurion University on January 18, 2023 (CREDIT: ARNOLD NATAEV/MAARIV).

Ido Atias, one of the students who organized the demonstration, said: "On our campus, there is not, nor will there be room for exclusion and discrimination. It's a campus of complete equality - for LGBTQ+ people, for women, for everyone of every religion, of every identity, of every hue and color. That's how it has been and that's how we'll keep it. Anyone who wants to turn us back will run into [an obstacle] in the form of the students."