Watch: Israel’s Gay Community Protests for Surrogacy Rights

LGBTQ Israel gay
AP/Sebastian Scheiner

TEL AVIV – Thousands of people in support of LGBTQ rights attended demonstrations all over the country on Sunday at the same time as a nationwide strike took place in protest of a new law passed by the Knesset last week that eased surrogacy regulations for single women, but does not enable gay couples or single men to have a child through surrogacy.

The bill’s passage on Thursday prompted protesters to block main roads in Tel Aviv.

“I think it’s the most basic thing that a human being can ask for himself is to be a parent, and our government is denying that from I don’t know how many percent of the population,” one of the protesters, Shahar Kazaz, a heterosexual ally of the LGBTQ community, told the Jerusalem Post. “As you can see, a lot of people are annoyed by it. Everyone deserves to be a parent. It’s absurd that it even came to that we need to protest for our basic human rights.”

Israelis participate in a rally to protest against inequality for the LGBT community in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, July 22, 2018. Thousands of Israeli LGBT advocates and their supporters went on strike across the country Sunday, protesting the exclusion of gay men from a recently passed surrogacy law. Hebrew signs read: “yes” and “equality.”(AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

The nature of the bill allows lesbian couples to have a child through surrogacy since they would be deemed single mothers.

“That’s even more absurd, you’re already passing the law, just make it approved for everybody,” Kazaz continued. “It’s a new law that has been passed so it’s a chance to correct it, not make it worse.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reneged on a previous promise to amend the bill to include single men.

“The process of surrogacy is very complicated — it is crazy expensive and the costs are astronomical,” the Jerusalem Post cited famous drag queen Suzi Boum as saying. “If the right exists in Israel — if there are women who can have surrogacy, why can’t men? Especially homosexual couples. We are here to protest against all the anti-democratic laws that have been enacted recently in the country, especially against the LGBT community.”

Boum, whose non-drag identity is Lior Yisraelov, comes from an Orthodox family.

Many companies supported a strike by LGBTQ members of the workforce, and gave them paid leave to join the protests.

Demonstrations took place in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and several other cities across the country.

The IDF barred soldiers from participating in either the strikes or protests, saying in a statement that since “the nature of the protests is ostensibly political, it’s forbidden to participate in these demonstrations.”

However, the head of the IDF manpower Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz clarified that while soldiers were not officially allowed to attend the protests, the army would not take disciplinary action against those who do.

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