During a political panel organized by the Aguda, Israel’s largest LGBT rights group, representatives from the country’s leading political parties vowed to improve LGBT rights.
Politicians representing seven different political attended an election LGBT panel of Otzma, the Aguda’s LGBT political division, where they promised to actively promote and work for improving LGBT rights in Israel.
The panel was the first ever held in the country (4 January), ahead of the country’s general election next month.
The ruling party’s, Likud-Beytenu, Minister of Culture and Sport, Limor Livnat, was a key speaker at the panel and surprized many of its attendees by vowing she will do her utmost to get her party to officially legislate for same-sex marriage.
Livnat stated that the task will not be easy as the party’s member views are split on this issue, but many support marriage equality.
However, out gay Israeli MP Nitzan Horowitz, from the left wing Meretz party, criticized Livnat and other parties by saying there is a gap between what the general public feels and legislation in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
‘When it comes to the Knesset, it is if there was a steel wall, there is a coalition discipline and legislative attempts hit a wall of opposition, sometimes irrational.
Horowitz gave an example of how a recent bill against discrimination in schools was scrapped with a religious party in coalition with Likud-Beytenu objected.
Livnat replied that ‘there is a difficulty, and this difficulty will be solved only when the Likud-Beytenu will be stronger and would not need certain parties as coalition partners’.
Her speech was interrupted by MP Nino Absadzeh (Labor party) who said: ‘We’ve reached the stage of deeds.
Many have pledged support [of LGBT rights], but I haven’t seen any voting for it’.
She called for lawmakers to organize better to coordinate the fight for LGBT rights in the Knesset.
Dov Haneen, from Hadash, the Israeli communist party, stated that LGBT rights are inseparable for the larger context of a battle for equality of Palestinians as well as women's rights.
He also stressed that his party is openly dealing with, and advocating LGBT issues with Palestinian Muslims who are citizens of Israel – which is an issue that requires great care.
Meirav Cohen, of Hatnua party pledged the new party will vote unanimously for LGBT rights and be good friend of the community.
Yael German, Mayor of Herzeliya, of the Yesh Atid party, promised her party will only vote for civil marriage if it included gay marriage and also pledged unanimous party votes for LGBT rights.
All parties delegates condemned the anti-gay statement by Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, of The Jewish Home party, who said gay marriage would destroy the Jewish people.
Shai Deutsch, the chair of the Aguda, stated that the organization will propose a bill to recompense families of the murdered teenagers in a shooting incident in Tel Aviv’s gay youth centre in 2009.
All delegates pledged they would support the bill.
See pictures taken during the panel here: