A Knesset hopeful with the Jewish Home party described himself as a “proud homophobe” during a discussion panel at a Ramat Gan high school Sunday.
“At home, everyone can be abnormal and people can form whatever family unit they want,” he said. “But they can’t make demands from me, as the state,” Bezalel Smotrich can be heard telling students in a recording obtained by Army Radio.
Jewish Home has been hounded by allegations it is anti-gay, stemming from a video in which politicians from the party are seen espousing views against same-sex marriage.
At number eight on the nationalist party’s list, Smotrich is likely to enter parliament after voting on March 17.
Smotrich told the students attending the preelection forum on politics that gay people “feel uncomfortable with being abnormal, it isn’t fun. So when they come out, they go out and boast about it.”
“They don’t have the right — just because they are uncomfortable being abnormal — to demand of us all to redefine the norm and claim ‘there is no such thing as normal,'” he said.
After one student interrupted him and called his remarks homophobic, Smotrich welcomed the criticism and responded to the student by saying, “I am a proud homophobe.”
In 2006, Smotrich was involved in organizing an anti-gay “Beast Parade” in Jerusalem in response to the city’s annual Gay Pride parade.
Anti-gay activists marched throughout the city with goats and donkeys to spotlight what they called “deviant acts” of same-sex relationships.
Smotrich has since distanced himself from anti-gay activism and told Haaretz that he regrettably organized the parade when he was “young and stupid.”
The Jewish Home party came under fire over a January campaign video in which members spoke out against equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. In the video, the vast majority of the party’s candidates flatly rejected Israel recognizing same-sex marriages, saying it went against Jewish values or normative principles.
The video quickly elicited harsh criticism by the gay community and left-wing politicians, who blasted the party members for what they called “homophobic” statements, and demanded an apology be issued.
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett refused to apologize for the video, and said his party would not support same-sex marriage legislation in the Knesset.
In response to Smotrich’s statements, the Jewish Home party said other parties held similar views.
“We encourage you to examine Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, who ran out of the Knesset plenum during the voting on same-sex rights, instead of attacking the Jewish Home day after day, and being surprised by the position of a Zionist party on this issue,” a spokesperson told Army Radio.