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For the first time, Israel will have an openly gay speaker of parliament

Amir Ohana, who has a partner and two children, was sworn in as an MP in 2015, a session in which lawmakers from United Torah Judaism and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, part of the new government coalition, left the chamber as a gesture. out of protest. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Likud lawmaker Amir Ohana was elected Thursday as the new speaker of the Knesset, becoming the first openly gay person to hold the position, amid growing concerns about statements from several ultra-Orthodox and far-right parties that they would do so. form part of the new government.

Who was the justice and public security minister in the past was confirmed as part of a session in which a new executive director took office, chaired by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to his position after a short period. A year after his electoral defeat in 2021.

Ohana, who has a partner and two children, was sworn in as a member of parliament in 2015, a session at which lawmakers from United Torah Judaism and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, part of the new government coalition, left the chamber as a gesture of protest.

During the day, the leader of the far-right party, Avi Maoz, said this “Nothing against gays and leftists”although he was described as “opposing LGTB as an idea and the left as an idea”. “I have nothing against certain people, in fact I feel sorry for those who live and work against the Torah”has stated.

“My criticisms are always about ideology, agendas, and organizations that use people for those agendas. I’m not talking about any of those who are attracted to people of their own gender, but about LGBT as a political idea and movementHe said, according to the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz”.

Amir Ohana attends the 4th Annual Champions of International Jewish Values ​​Awards gala at Marriott Marquis Broadway Hall on May 5, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
Amir Ohana attends the 4th Annual Champions of International Jewish Values ​​Awards gala at Marriott Marquis Broadway Hall on May 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)

Thus, Maoz, who will head a site on Jewish national identity that will control the content taught in schools, has criticized those who “deliberately try to present it maliciously as someone who fights (…) against these or these people,” in A reference to members of the LGBTQ community and leftists. In the past, the leader of Noam has described himself as a “proud homophobe” and described liberal attitudes within Judaism as “dark”.

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For his part, religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich described Ohana as “A precious man now takes on an important and difficult position.”According to the i24 TV network. Smotrich has expressed his opinions against the LGBTQ community in the past, so his words represent a distance from those positions.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog recently expressed this interest Through several statements by politicians who will form the next government coalition, which prompted Netanyahu to clarify this The law will not approve discrimination on the basis of religion.

In this sense, Herzog declared his “concern” about the increase in “comments against the LGTB community and against any different group or sector”. He concluded, “A situation in which the citizens of Israel feel threatened by their identity or their beliefs undermines the fundamental democratic values ​​of the State of Israel.”

Orit Struck, the Religious Zionist MP who will be a minister in the next executive branch, recently stated that doctors should be able to refuse treatments that go against their faith, as long as someone else is willing to offer the same treatment.

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu adjusts his kippah after speaking at a special session of Parliament where he swore the new government in Jerusalem.  December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Paul
Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu adjusts his kippah after speaking at a special session of Parliament where he swore the new government in Jerusalem. December 29, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/Paul

In fact, the Israeli president has called Netanyahu to express concern over alleged plans to amend the country’s anti-discrimination laws. Israeli media said that the coalition agreement between Likud and religious Zionism will include a clause to amend this legislation and allow employers to refuse services if they violate their religious beliefs.

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For this reason, Netanyahu, who denied the existence of this clause in the agreement, said on Monday that he “totally rejects” Struck’s remarks and emphasized that The next government “will not allow discrimination against homosexuals or undermining the rights of Israelis”. He promised that “the coalition agreements do not permit discrimination against homosexuals or prejudice the right of any Israeli citizen to receive services.”

Stroke, for his part, went out of his way to criticize and demanded on Twitter to “calm the anger.” “No one intends to discriminate against homosexuals because of their identity. Neither in the medical services nor in other services. They are human beings and deserve dignity and respect as much as anyone else.”

(with info from EP)

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