Hundreds of Israeli Facebook profile pages were colored in blue and white equality signs Tuesday, as Israelis set out to express their solidarity with the country’s LGBT community and push for the advancement of anti-discriminatory legislation for gay couples.
An Israeli take on the successful Human Rights Campaign symbol, which proved to be a massive viral hit in the days prior to the US Supreme Court’s pivotal ruling on gay marriage, the campaign came in response to recent moves from legislators in the Jewish Home and Yisrael Beytenu parties to shoot down bills that would expand benefits for LGBT persons.
The idea was hatched by Yonatan Vanunu, a prominent Israeli gay rights activist, who collaborated with graphic designer Tal Speigel in creating the blue and white badge.
“Homosexuality is not just in the bed!” Vanunu wrote on his Facebook page. “Its about relationship, a family, a community.
“My country surprisingly defines me according to my sexual orientation. Though now I am single, I want to one day get married and have a family in Israel.” he said.
On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation rejected a bill presented by Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender. Five ministers from Yisrael Beytenu and Jewish Home opposed the legislation.
Last week, Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking him to halt the legislation process for a bill that would expand child tax credits for gay fathers.
Current Israeli law grants higher tax breaks for mothers than for fathers, a situation that puts male gay couples at a disadvantage, since both parents are male. The benefits for each child can reach over NIS 2,600 ($739) a year, or tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a childhood.
Shaked argued that the presented bill violates the coalition agreement’s stipulations on religion and state due to its far-reaching implications for marriage law.
“The proposed bill disrupts the status quo between religion and the state as they exist in Israel, and its purpose is to undermine the public debate on civil marriage, which should be undertaken with seriousness,” she wrote.
According to the terms of the coalition agreement that brought the national-religious Jewish Home into the government, the party has the right to veto any laws that change the fragile status quo on religious issues. Marriage services for Jews in Israel are controlled by the state rabbinate.
Israel currently has no civil marriage.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.