Israeli cities were at a standstill Sunday, as protests and strikes against an anti-LGBTI surrogacy law snowball.
On Sunday morning campaigners gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem. They also protested in many other Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Karmiel.
Tel Aviv’s main highway was impassible, as demonstrators there marched across the city. Protestor @AlonLeeGreen posted a picture of the highway on Twitter, with the caption: ‘Happening NOW: we are thousands of the #lgbt community, blocking the main highway of Tel Aviv in demand of equality.’
Campaign started with a small number of companies supporting it
Initially, the pro-LGBT campaign against the new surrogacy bill had only small support from business, but this has now grown to hundreds.
All companies and organizations joining the strike will allow their employees to take a paid day off work to join the protest, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Some companies have gone further saying they will financially support any employees who want to start a family through surrogacy.
Israel’s LGBT Task Force, Aguda, organised the protests with the help of network group, LGBTech, to win over big business.
As reported earlier by Gay Star News, support is also coming from leading global media, retail, hi-tech and financial firms.
Earlier this month Israel’s parliament amended a surrogacy bill to include single women. However the Knesset failed to extend it to same-sex couples or LGBTI individuals.
This sent shock waves through the LGBTI community, who protested against the amendments. But when the bill eventually passed last week, support swelled and the campaign has now snowballed.
With big businesses supporting the strikes, politicians will face pressure to reconsider the legislation.
Social wave of support for LGBTI
‘We are seeing a social wave of support for the LGBTI community. Not just on the issue of surrogacy…but for the very idea of a just and equal society,’ Jeremy Seeff, a director of the LGBTech group, told The Jerusalem Post.
‘Trans-gendered people are being stabbed in the streets; discriminatory laws are being passed and inequality is far reaching,’ Seeff said.
‘Companies are, for the first time on this scale, showing that there is social but also commercial value in standing up for equality, and are proving to be critical drivers for change.
‘Through the Israel Diversity Standard, we plan to engage these companies (and many more) to ensure not just immediate action, but also long term defense of basic human rights.’
The Knesset enacted the surrogacy bill before it broke up for the summer recess.