סער גיט
Saar Git
Photo: Courtesy
Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade in June 2019

New government could bring real change for LGBT community

Opinion: While many were disappointed at the sight of this bloated amalgam called Israel's 35th government, maybe, just maybe it will be the one to actually take steps to improve LGBT rights in this country

Saar Git |
Published: 05.29.20 , 18:41
Many Blue & White voters who were deeply disappointed by party leader Benny Gantz for breaking his promise not to join a coalition headed by an indicted man, and had hoped for a different government.
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  • Even those who were all for a unity government probably didn't want this particular one, which was formed in such nauseating process of ministerial invention and unbridled job distribution.
    מצעד הגאווה תל אביבמצעד הגאווה תל אביב
    Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade in June 2019
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    But if there is any remaining hope among these voters, it's the small ray of light that that conditions will change for the country’s proud LGBT community. But this will only happen if those public officials who made it into the Knesset clutching the multicolored pride flag are brave enough to wave it from the plenum too.
    This new overly bloated government has a myriad of pressing problems to deal with, from the economical crisis to violence against women.
    But this coalition, with its unique assembly, has to take a small step towards equality for the scores of LGBT people who rallied across the country in 2018, demanding equal rights after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted against surrogacy for male same-sex couples.
    A gay couple and their daughter at a July 2019 protest in Tel Aviv against the surrogacy ban for same-sex partners A gay couple and their daughter at a July 2019 protest in Tel Aviv against the surrogacy ban for same-sex partners
    A gay couple and their daughter at a July 2019 protest in Tel Aviv against the surrogacy ban for same-sex partners
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    True, this government is far from perfect on that aspect as well. The ultra-Orthodox still have their fingers in every issue of religion and state, and will surely not hesitate to torpedo any pro-LGBT initiative.
    But despite the skepticism that many LGBT people justifiably feel about the ability of Israeli lawmakers to elicit real change in their own lives, one can see that the balance of power has indeed shifted.
    As Gantz himself pointed out, this is no longer the government for half the people, to which we have grown accustomed.
    After too many years of being content with simply shouting from the opposition benches, the parties that have pledged to advance LGBT rights now have access to the budgets to make that happen.
    That means that the 19 members of Gantz’ bloc, who promised during three election campaigns to promote the rights of this proud community, will also have walk the walk and and not just talk the talk.
    It won’t be easy, but the initial data looks promising: The current Knesset has a record representation from the community, with five MKs (six if Yorai Lahav-Hertzano makes it into the Knesset via the Norwegian Law).
    בית הנשיא ארח האקתון לפיתוח טכנולוגיות למיגור אלימות במשפחה והצלת חיים לזכרה של מיכל סלה ז"ל שנרצחה בידי בעלהבית הנשיא ארח האקתון לפיתוח טכנולוגיות למיגור אלימות במשפחה והצלת חיים לזכרה של מיכל סלה ז"ל שנרצחה בידי בעלה
    Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli: Pushing LGBT rights
    (Photo: GPO)
    Two of gay men, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana and Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli, head important ministries and each could lead the change in his own sector.
    All of the above happened, while former transport minister Bezalel Smotrich, the organizer of the "beast parade" (an anti-Gay Pride protest in Jerusalem) was left out. Former education minister Rafi Peretz, who supported conversion therapy, has been booted into a marginal role.
    Shmuli even made sure to include an unprecedented clause in the coalition agreement, pledging that the state would grant financial assistance to same-sex couples who went through the surrogacy process abroad.
    According to a review by the Citizens' Empowerment Center in Israel, the implementation rate of coalition agreements in the previous government crossed 70 percent - giving hope of legislative progress.
    This means there may be a little optimism even with the conditions under which this new hybrid government was established.
    With regards to LGBT issues, the current government operates within clear cut boundaries.
    הפגנה של תלמידים בכיכר רביןהפגנה של תלמידים בכיכר רבין
    A student protest in Tel Aviv against the anti-gay comments by Rafi Peretz
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    On one hand, there was a nauseating statement Peretz gave during an interview last January, when asked what would he do if one of his children were gay. "Thank God," he said, "my children grew up in a normal and healthy way."
    On the other hand is an historic High Court ruling in February granting surrogacy rights to same-sex couples and calling for it to be enshrined in law within a year.
    These two events, so different from one another, should be the driving force of every MK and minister who has a desire to tackle LGBT rights.
    Even if the revolution does not happen tomorrow, now is time to take steps in the right direction. With the right people in the right place, the LGBT community could finally begin to see the finish line.
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