Israel opens kiosk at Berlin pride, angering an LGBT group back home

Aguda association says Foreign Ministry’s attempt to promote country as a haven of equality for gay rights clashes with harsh reality

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Participants of the Christopher Street Day gay pride parade walk through the streets of Berlin on July 28, 2018. (Tobias SCHWARZ/AFP)
Participants of the Christopher Street Day gay pride parade walk through the streets of Berlin on July 28, 2018. (Tobias SCHWARZ/AFP)

A leading gay rights group on Sunday accused the government of hypocrisy after the Foreign Ministry set up an Israeli advocacy stand at the Berlin gay pride event over the weekend. The move came a little over a week the Knesset passed changes to surrogacy laws that did not remove restrictions on gay men’s access to the treatment.

During the Berlin Gay Pride 2018 on Saturday, a ministry kiosk handed out Israeli flags that employed the rainbow pride colors and promoted gay tourism to Israel.

Ohed Hizki, director of the Aguda rights organization, said there were contradictions between the government’s attitudes at home and those it presents abroad.

“There is no limit to the hypocrisy,” he said a statement. “With one hand, the government takes away from the LGBT community the basic right to a family and parenthood, and with the other hand markets the country to LGBT tourism from around the world.

“Instead of trying to create equal rights for the LGBT citizens of Israel, they are chasing after the friends of the community abroad,” he continued. “It is about time to put into practice in Hebrew what the country says so well in English, German, and French.”

The Foreign Ministry said that it sets up a stand at the event every year, Hadashot TV news reported.

On July 18 the Knesset voted on a surrogacy bill that extended eligibility to single women, but not to men, effectively preventing homosexual couples from having a child via a surrogate and drawing accusations of discrimination.

Last Sunday gay rights advocates and their supporters observed an unprecedented one-day strike, and large demonstrations were held in major cities across Israel, where hundreds were seen waving rainbow flags, blocking traffic and shouting “shame.”

That evening tens of thousands of Israelis packed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest the exclusion of gay couples from the surrogacy law.

Israel’s Eurovision song contest winner Neta Barzilai was scheduled to put on a performance at the Berlin pride event, known as the Christopher Street Day parade, but instead settled for taking the stage at a club in the city that is associated with the LGBT community.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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