Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally responded to criticism over the country’s controversial new surrogacy laws. But LGBTI groups are not happy with what he had to say.
Last month, Israel’s parliament (Knesset) amended surrogacy laws to allow single women to access surrogacy services. Previously, only married people were allowed to try surrogacy. But the new laws stopped short at making it legal for same-sex and LGBTI couples.
The country’s LGBTI community went on national strike, with streets protests shutting down cities across Israel over the new laws. Protesters even gathered outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem.
The PM wrote a letter to Barbara ‘Goldy’ Goldberg, the vice president of the World Congress of GLBT Jews. News site Haaertz reported that Netanyahu wrote the letter in response to an earlier joint letter he received from LGBTI groups around the world criticizing the laws.
‘Israel consistently upholds civil equality and civil rights of all its citizens regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation,’ he wrote in the letter.
Netanyahu said he supported ‘LGBTQ family rights on numerous occasions’ but stopped short of explicitly addressing the controversy.
LGBTI groups said Netanyahu’s letter was hypocritical and did not reflect the real experiences of people.
‘Israel’s government aims at attracting international gay tourism in the country at the same time they discriminate their own LGBTQ citizens from basic parenthood rights,’ Frank Giaoui, president of the World Congress of GLBT Jews, told Haaertz. ‘What a strange paradox!’
Assaf Weiss, officer-at-large of the World Congress of GLBT Jews said the PM’s words did not reflect the government’s actions.
‘Stating that Israel upholds total equal rights for the LGBT community in Israel is a complete falsehood,’ Weiss told Haaertz.
‘Under this current government in Israel, LGBTQ people are suffering from harsh discrimination regarding parental rights, marriage rights and transgender rights.’