“I came here in the middle of my schedule, which was no less busy, to say one sentence to the members of the LGBT community: Every man was created in the image of God,” he said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “That is the idea brought by our nation to mankind thousands of years ago, and it is the principle that must guide our national lives today.”
Netanyahu made his comments during what the Jerusalem Post described as the Knesset’s “first designated LGBT Rights Day.”
Amir Ohana, the first openly gay member of the Knesset from Netanyahu’s Likud party, was among those who spoke during the event. Tom Canning of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance and dozens of other LGBT rights advocates and organizations attended.
The Jerusalem Post reported the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) Manpower held a meeting on LGBT servicemembers.
Canning told the Washington Blade in an email that a Jerusalem teenager who was outed by his principal testified before the Knesset Committee on Education, Culture and Sport.
Lawmakers on Tuesday heard testimony about health care providers who discriminate against their patients because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Canning told the Blade they also held a hearing on last July’s attack against a Jerusalem Pride march that left Shira Banki, a 16-year-old teenager, dead and five others injured.
Netanyahu was among those who condemned the attack on the event that the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance organized.
The prime minister made his latest comments eight days after Jerusalem authorities announced plans to rename a square in honor of Banki. Netanyahu’s appearance also took place roughly a month after protesters forced the cancellation of a reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference that was to have featured Canning and Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance Executive Director Sarah Kala-Meir.
Six pro-LGBT bills vetoed on Sunday
Canning noted to the Blade that Netanyahu’s coalition government two days before he spoke at the Knesset rejected six bills that would have, among other things, banned so-called conversion therapy to minors and increased penalties for anti-LGBT hate crimes.
Yishai Schlissel, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who prosecutors say attacked Banki and five others during the Jerusalem Pride march, served a 10-year prison sentence in connection with the stabbing of three people during a similar event in 2005. Schlissel was released from custody less than a month before last July’s attack.
“This legislation would have kept Yishai Schlissel in prison, rather then releasing him to allow him to stab six people at our Pride march,” Canning told the Blade, referring to the hate crimes bill. “So while we appreciate the prime minister taking the time out of his schedule to attend the LGBTQ Rights Day, his lack of support for basic protections for LGBTQ people has left the community exposed to continued oppression and discrimination.”