Knesset Member Anastassia Michaeli
clarified on Thursday that she did not mean to offend anyone with her controversial
remarks on homosexuals. According to Michaeli, who said that "most homosexuals commit suicide at the age of 40," her true intention was to raise awareness to issues concerning the LGBT community in Israel.
"Most homosexuals are people who experienced sexual abuse at a very young age," Michaeli posited Wednesday during a session of the Knesset's Committee on the Status of Women.
The MK slammed Channel 10 for featuring programs that show "how nice it is to be gay," and added: "They are miserable, these homosexuals… Eventually they commit suicide at the age of 40."
In her clarification, Michaeli said: "I respect a person's decision to live according to their belief," she said, adding that "the gay community confronts a wide range of hardships, while an extreme manifestation of such hardships could be suicide."
"The bond of silence only worsens the problem," she claimed.
Michaeli's comments drew harsh criticism from several lawmakers and organizations. MK Ilan Ghilon, from the leftist Meretz
party, said the Knesset cannot accept "homophobic remarks" and called on the Yisrael Beitenu lawmaker to "delve into her own past."
Israel Gay Youth director Avner Dafni said he was "shocked that in 2012 there remain public officials who express themselves in such an archaic and dangerous manner. Such comments can push homosexual teens to the brink of suicide."
Following Michaeli's controversial comments, Yisrael Beiteinu issued a statement disassociating the party from the MK's words about homosexuals. "Michaeli's statements are her own opinion and do not represent the party," the statement read.