Shalom Life | April 27, 2014

LGBT Activists Rally in Tel Aviv

Thousands protest Jewish Home Party's vetoing a bill that would grant male couples tax breaks

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: December 16th, 2013 in News » Israel

And the war for equality in Israel rages on.

Following a new online movement initiated by gay rights activist Yonatan Vanunu which has seen thousands coming forward in support of equal rights for the LGBT community - changing their Facebook photos to a blue and white flag that is a symbol of equality in Israel - many members of this community took to the streets as well to demonstrate.

The weather was horrible, but that didn’t stop over a thousand gay rights activists from gathering in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square on Saturday to protest the Jewish Home party’s vetoing of a bill which would allow tax breaks to the children of male homosexual couples.

The rally comes on the heels of a new study which asserts 70% of Israelis support equal rights for members of the LGBT community, and Health Minister Yael German's proposed bill to grant same-sex male partners the opportunity to use surrogate mothers.

This bill has also been killed.

"Don't give in to religious coercion"

Shai Deutsch, the chairman of the Israeli National Association for LGBT spoke at the rally. “We won’t let this situation continue. The time has come that we support those who support us in the Knesset and the government, and resolutely attack those LGBT-phobic in the government and Knesset that, although they are a minority, attempt to turn Israel into a religious dictatorship like Iran.”

Deutsch appealed to prominent politicians, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, and leading members of the Yesh Atid party, asking that they “Don’t give in to religious coercion.” At the rally, demonstrators held signs with such slogans as “No, we are not animals. Just people,” and “The Other is equal, too.”

The legislation that activists were out to support was submitted by Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol, and passed its first reading on the first of December. It stipulated that gay male couples would receive the same tax breaks as same-sex female couples and heterosexual couples. Under current law, mothers received higher tax breaks for children than fathers.

Soon after the bill passed its first Knesset vote, Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked sent a letter to Netanyahu, demanding that the bill be “torpedoed.” Shaked asked that, under the terms of the current coalition, Jewish Home may veto any legislation that undermines the religious status quo.

“The suggested bill disrupts the status quo between religion and the state as they exist in Israel, and its purpose is to burrow under the public debate on civil marriage, which should be undertaken with seriousness,” said the letter. Because of it, the preliminary reading of the legislation, which had been scheduled for December 4, was postponed indefinitely.

Despite it, public support for the LGBT community in Israel continues to reach new highs. Organizers at the rally announced that they would return the following Saturday, anticipating a larger crowd with the expected improved weather.

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