An Israeli politician is claiming she has been sent hundreds of hateful text messages since saying that most gay people were sexually abused as kids.
Yisrael Beytenu party representative, Anastassia Michaeli, who is a member of the Israeli Knesset parliament, accused leading TV station Channel 10 of promoting homosexuality.
‘Where is the social justice for anyone who watches this content?’ she asked, claiming that if children watched programs about gays then ‘in 10 years we'll be in Sodom. Where did the values of the Holy Land go?’
She also said most gay people ‘commit suicide when they are 40’.
Her comments were condemned by gay groups, who have been celebrating Pride Month in Israel, and fellow politicians from across the political spectrum.
Her own Yisrael Beytenu group said she was speaking for herself and that her comments did not represent the party’s thinking.
The argument started when Michaeli MK claimed at a meeting of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, that commercial TV station Channel 10 had put out broadcasts encouraging children to be gay.
She said: ‘To my discomfort, when I turn on Channel 10 I see supposed entertainment programs showing how nice it is to be a homosexual, and in a re-run they interview his mother about how sad she is and how she divorced her husband and her son is a homosexual.
‘I want to ask – what did the son undergo as a small child, when he was three years old, from his father, and why did they divorce?
‘I think that most homosexuals are guys who undergo a very traumatic experience of sexual harassment from a very young age, and it gets worse with time.
‘We are here in the Committee for the Advancement of Women. It is time to establish a Committee for the Advancement of the Family in the Knesset in order to study in depth why there is so much sexual harassment.
‘Why does Channel 10 has the right to broadcast content like that, in which my children, on their way to the kitchen, hear that it is fun and nice [for boys] to dance and put on makeup and wear skirts?’
Channel 10 later responded that they were unsure what exactly Michaeli was referring to.
However she went on to say: ‘We should cooperate with those homosexuals because they are suffering. In the end they wind up committing suicide at age 40, and they are the same guys who want to be women and they are indeed women.
‘There should be more consciousness of this. There should be a campaign with professionals and psychologists.’
Her comments were also criticized in the media, with many sources reminding Israelis of the debate in the Knesset Education Committee when Michaeli poured a cup of water on Arab Labor MK Ghaleb Majadle, earning her a suspension.
In response to the new outcry, Michaeli issued an apology although did not retract her remarks.
‘I’m sorry if anyone was hurt,’ she said, adding that she did not believe her comments were homophobic.
She said she had intended to use her comments to raise important issues.
‘First, is the real distress members of the gay and lesbian community are subject to in different stages of their lives, and second, is the violent and crass programming, especially of a sexual nature, in the media and television,’ she said.
However, not everyone was satisfied with her apology and yesterday (17 June) Michaeli said she had been sent hundreds, if not thousands, of hateful text messages as a result.
She claims her phone number was posted on the internet.
‘I was exposed to mental and verbal abuse,’ she said, adding a complaint has been filed with the Knesset’s investigating officer. She is also considering appealing to the courts over the behavior toward her.
Shabi Gatenio, Gay Middle East’s Israel editor, told Gay Star News that Michaeli was well known for her past gaffes and that LGBT people in the country were ‘upset’ but tried to laugh off the insult.
He said: ‘I think there are people who share her opinions but they are quite ashamed to be represented by her.
‘Everybody is thinking she is a joke, even in her own party. They are really embarrassed by her and they are not embarrassed very easily.’