The leader of the Union of Right Wing Parties, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, appeared to compare LGBT people to dogs in an interview Wednesday and then swiftly apologized for his remarks.
Peretz, whose Jewish Home party recently merged to form the far-right alliance with the National Union and extremist Otzma Yehudit parties, made the remarks on a Channel 12 news podcast.
During the interview, Peretz said that while he didn’t mind gay people expressing their sexuality in private, he objected to the visibility of the LGBT community in Israel.
“The LGBT people want to live the way they want to, and I’m not going to tell them otherwise” he said. “But on the national level, attempting to change the character of the Jewish homeland, for a person who identifies as a religious Zionist like me, that’s inappropriate.
“I don’t like dogs in my house,” he said. “So what, does that mean I now need to have a march for them?”
“The public arena needs to be monitored, but when it’s in a private space it’s fine,” Peretz added.
In a statement that he sent out before the comments were broadcast, Peretz said that in discussing the annual gay pride parade he “chose my words poorly in a way that will likely hurt many people.”
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart… I respect every person as an individual and do not wish to interfere with their private life,” he said.
The union Peretz leads has been subject to a chorus of condemnation from Israelis and Diaspora Jews alike, over the inclusion of the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) faction, led by former disciples of the extremist rabbi Meir Kahane.