About 200 demonstrators protested outside government buildings in Jerusalem Saturday night to denounce the veto of five bills aimed at establishing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Israel, reported the Jerusalem Post.
The proposed laws, introduced last August in memory of a 16 year old girl who died after being stabbed along with five other people at the Jerusalem Pride parade in July, were known as the "Shira Banki bills."
They were vetoed Wednesday, just one day after Israel’s first LGBT Rights Day, a move opposition party leaders and community activists at the protest criticized as hypocritical.
According to the Post, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare Tuesday appearance in the legislature, declaring he wanted to deliver just “one sentence to the members of the LGBT community: ‘Every man was created in the image of God.’ That is the idea brought by our nation to mankind thousands of years ago, and it is the principle that must guide our national lives today.”
But the next day, those five pro-LGBT bills introduced by Netanyahu’s political opponents — including government recognition of civil unions, a ban on so-called ex-gay or conversion therapy of minors, and a bill to require medical students study sexual orientation — were spiked by the prime minister’s right-wing coalition, according to the Post.
In a statement to the newspaper, the Zionist Union condemned Netanyahu’s cronies for turning members of the LGBT community into what the group called “public relations” props, by showcasing civil rights one day, and the next rejecting the very laws designed to support LGBT Israelis.
A minister from that group, Merav Michaeli told the Knesset she is disappointed not one new gay rights law was passed, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“This House still insists on turning its back to the gay community,” said Michaeli. “This government and coalition consider it fate that parts of it cannot accept the community and denounce it.” She suggested the coalition government was controlled by ultra-conservative and antigay orthodox Jews.
Knesset member Amir Ohana, who is the first gay lawmaker representing the Likud party, also addressed the Knesset, stating 10 percent of Israel’s population is LGBT, and that the community is without rights under law.
“They cannot get married in their country, bring children into the world in their country, be their partners’ heir if he or she dies, and not because they are hostile to the state, do not serve in the army or pay taxes, rather, because they are gay or lesbian,” Ohana told the assembly.
The LGBT community, he said, has much in common with the Jewish people, who were in his words, “hated for no reason, persecuted, discriminated against and faced forced conversion.”
“What did they do wrong that so many people hate them, sometimes to death?” Ohana asked rhetorically.
Ohana did not attend Knesset (Israel's parliament) for the final vote on the LGBT bills. On Facebook, he explained that party discipline is strictly enforced, which means he would not have been able to side with the opposition in order to support the proposed legislation. However, he refused to cast a vote against the interests of his own community.