Major Israeli companies to allow LGBT employees to strike
Following the passing of the Surrogacy Law which excluded same-sex couples, many leading Israeli companies and organizations declared their support for the community, allowing gay staff to be absent from work in order to participate in demonstrations and sponsoring 'surrogacy grants'; LGBT community 'no to discrimination, no to violence, no to legislation aimed against us, no to ignoring our rights.'
The companies are expected to allow their employees not only to be excused from work to participate in the upcoming demonstrations but also to sponsor “surrogacy grants” for same-sex couples who decide to undergo the exhausting and expensive procedure overseas.
The surrogacy law allows single mothers and heterosexual couples who cannot have children to use the services of a surrogate mother to become parents.
However, it excludes homosexual couples, preventing them from becoming parents through the surrogacy process.
Some 800 members of the LGBT community and their supporters protested against the law on Thursday evening in Tel Aviv.
"It was a historic day that signals what’s in the future, and tomorrow is going to be no less historic," says Chen Arieli, chairwoman of the LGBT Association that initiated the strike.
"We will not rest this weekend, this is the first time that the LGBT community in Israel says no—no to discrimination, no to violence, no to legislation aimed against us, no to ignoring our rights,” she vented.
The protesters fired a warning message at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was repeated all throughout the evening "We declared war on him ... This summer is going to be a nightmare for Bibi.”
The main march was led by Orly and Ravit Weisselberg-Zur, parents to a child with a pending custody appeal in the High Court of Justice, who reflected on their own experiences on the matter.
"Our son is already two years old and the State of Israel still does not recognize me as his mother. It makes me go begging for it in court. Today we all marched, as a community, some with baby strollers but without the rights. We all maintain our right to start a family in Israel," she exclaimed.
Elad Nahshon, who was awarded the medal of honor by the president of Israel for his service in the IDF, says he does not understand why the country that gave him this honor prevents him from starting a family.
"I do not intend on paying hundreds of thousands of shekels for a surrogacy procedure abroad at the expense of savings for the future, and why am I denied the basic rights in my country? The country benefits from LGBT tourism with millions of dollars in revenue and it should fully support the community that put Tel Aviv on the map as a preferred LGBT tourism destination like Berlin and Madrid,” Nahshon explained.
MKs Stav Shaffir and Tzipi Livni—both from the Zionist Union—also attended the demonstration and explained their opposition to the law.
"This is a historic awakening," Shafir said. "The LGBT community has understood its power and has woken up the entire country. Today proves that the general public is united and together we can defeat the darkness, hatred and fear."
Livni also echoed the sentiment, saying: “I haven’t seen an energy like this in years. This is only the beginning.”
Some of the companies who expressed their solidarity with the LGBT community's protest include pharmaceutical company Teva; communication companies Bezeq, Cellcom and Motorola; TV providers Yes and HOT; Facebook Israel; credit card companies such as Leumi Card and Isracard; pharmacy company Super-Pharm; Clal Insurance; airlines El Al and Israir; construction engineering company Electra; supermarket chain Sufersal and many others. In addition, the The Nature and Parks Authority will allow LGBT members of its staff to attend the march.
Ichilov Hospital at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center also joined the list of LGBT community supporters, allowing all employees who wish to participate in the upcoming protests to be absent from work.
"In light of the requests from gay member of our staff and in solidarity with the community's struggle for equal rights, the hospital will allow its employees, who wish to participate in Sunday’s demonstrations, to be absent from work,” said the official statement.
"The management of the medical center will ensure that the patient are not affected on that day," concluded the statement.
Dr. Roy Zucker, a doctor at the hospital's Infectious Diseases Unit, thanked the management for their support.
"I thank the management for cooperating and on Sunday I will not go to work. Doctors provide services to the citizens on a daily basis … and all we ask for is to have basic rights—the ability to raise children, get married and other issues that haven’t been on the agenda until now."
El Al also joined the list of companies who decided to express their support for the community.
El Al airlines also published a statement explaining their reasons for supporting the rallies.
"The company supports and embraces the LGBT community in their fight for equality … We will do our utmost to allow our people to participate in Sunday’s demonstrations, while taking into consideration the busy flight schedule at the height of the summer season,” the official statement said.
However, the Israel Airports Authority employees' committee warned of possible flight delays as a result.
"Following the request of many workers to be absent from work this Sunday in light of the LGBT protests, there is expected to be a shortage of manpower. It should be noted that Sundays are unusually busy. We apologize to our passengers and ask to be patient in light of the expected flight delays," said the statement.