Gay rights activist optimistic about marriage equality in Israel

Oded Frid says the US Supreme Court decision will echo throughout the world.

Gay Pride 2015 (photo credit: GUY YEHIELI)
Gay Pride 2015
(photo credit: GUY YEHIELI)
The Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing marriage equality in the US could pass in the Knesset in Israel, Oded Frid, director-general of the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, said Monday.
Bills have been proposed on the matter by Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie. Neither bill is expected to attract a majority.
But in an interview with Voice of Israel radio, Frid said he is still optimistic.
“We are very happy for our friends in the US,” Frid said. “I am optimistic about it happening in Israel, even though the situation here is different because we don’t have a constitution and we have a rabbinic court system. The ruling will echo throughout the world that there must be equality, that LGBTQ people are not different than heterosexuals and should not be treated differently than other people.”
Frid explained his optimism by saying that over the last five years, every survey in Israel has found 60 percent in favor of equal rights for LGBT people, including marriage equality.
He expressed hope that the support in the public could be transferred to the Knesset.
“We have great support from Knesset members and from ministers in the government in the Likud and Kulanu, and if they will make the effort needed, it can pass in Israel as well,” Frid said.
“You have to be optimistic, take baby steps. We hope to see the day the US had in Israel some day in the near future.”
Asked whether he could bypass the Knesset by going to the Supreme Court, Frid said that would not work because there is no constitution in Israel to provide rights.
The previous Knesset passed a bill against discrimination of LGBT students in schools that was sponsored by Hadash MK Dov Henin, a member of the opposition, he noted.
During the election campaign, Frid’s group invited party heads to speak to the LGBT community. In a taped statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports LGBT rights.
“I don’t know what that means,” Frid said. “We have to make sure that support shows itself in actions, not only in words. I’d be happy if the prime minister showed support, I know he’s very busy with other issues, but I think he should say something. I think he should be more vocal on this issue.”