February 24, 2016 at 10:26 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Netanyahu speaks to Israeli LGBT activists at Knesset

Benjamin Netanyahu, gay news, Washington Blade

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo by Cherie Cullen; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke to LGBT rights advocates who were gathered at the Knesset.

“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.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • yyeh but a nut case who wants to start another war, this time against the shia

    He’s as paranoid as Joseph DZugashvili , other wise known as Joe stalin – man of steel

    I’m nominally jewish but until israel accepts the oslo accords and gives aa lousy 23% of the west bank to the palestinians for a homeland, as far as I am concerned, Israel is in some ways an aprtheid state. Palestinians have llived there for thousands of years

    • You are wrong on all counts. No people called ‘Palestinians’ have lived anywhere for ‘thousands of years’. There have been Arabs, mainly since the 7th century. The term ‘Palestine’ goes back to antiquity, but never for a state or anything like it, just a region in what was named by the Arabs ‘Syria’ (al-Sham). Israel is the on ly side to have acted on and fiulfilled most of its Oslo commitments. The Palestinian Authority has not done so, above all in working to build peace and secure borders. You speak of a ‘lousy 23% of the West Bank’. Are you daft? 23% is all that was left for both Jews and Arabs within the original Palestine Mandate after the British cut off 77% to create Transjordan (now Jordan) which was intended to be a 100% Arab state. Israel has offered the Palestinians close to 100% of the West Bank and pulled out completely from Gaza. Under UN Resolution 242, Israel can only pull out of the WB when the Palestinians agree to secure borders and a total peace agreement. The Palestinians have turned down almost a dozen very generous offers to end the occupation. That is a matter of recorded historical fact. As for the ‘apartheid’ slur, it is totally false. Read about South African apartheid and apartheid laws, then look at Israel, which is the exact opposite. Security measures on the West Bank are very similar to those used by the UK in Northern Ireland during the Troubles: checkpoints, closed roads, barriers to separate warring parties. I could go on, but I am fed up with people who don’t know the facts pontificating on this. Read some serious books and articles, then think very hard about who is to blame for the ongoing struggle. Not Israel, by any stretch of the imagination. If you must criticize Israel, then do so fairly and on the basis of facts, not fantasies.

  • To the extent that Bibi sets a better example for conservatives in Israel-friendly governments all around the world, his appearance and comments were a good thing. But that seems to be a bare minimum for Likud in Israel.

    What’s going on with the politics of Marriage Equality for Israelis? Where does Bibi and Likud stand on that?

    How about recruitment, treatment and promotion for LGBTs in the IDF?

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