Activists have sharply criticized the passage of a bill in the Israeli Knesset that prevents gay couples from using surrogates.The Jerusalem Post reported the bill passed on Wednesday by a 59-52 vote.
Media reports indicate the bill allows lesbian couples to use surrogates, but it does not include men who are in same-sex relationships. A Wider Bridge, a U.S.-based organization that says it is “dedicating to supporting LGBTQ communities in Israel,” on Thursday said gay couples and single men could face up to three years in prison if they try to use a surrogate in Israel.
Hundreds of LGBTI activists marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Thursday to protest the bill’s passage. Businesses have also said their employees can participate in a strike against the measure that is scheduled to take place on Sunday.
The Aguda, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, is supporting the strike.
“The LGBTQ community in Israel is calling you to join our protest,” it wrote on its Facebook page. “In Israel today, lesbian women cannot register their children to (sic) school, transgenders are stabbed on the streets. LGBTQ teens are running into homophobia every day in schools.”
“The Knesset…has recently passed laws that threaten equality and basic human rights,” it adds. “We cannot sit quietly anymore and continue living life like this.”
A Wider Bridge Executive Director Tyler Gregory in his group’s statement described the bill’s passage as a “worrisome development.”
“LGBTQ people in Israel face mounting odds, something made clearer after the Knesset’s passage of the discriminatory legislation last night, despite fierce opposition from Israel’s LGBTQ communities and allies, and words of support from the prime minister,” he said. “The ability of the ultra-orthodox parties within the government to force a vote on anti-gay legislation is yet another instance of the Israeli government highlighting its support of LGBTQ rights abroad while harming LGBTQ people at home by prioritizing coalition politics over people’s lives.”