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Knesset shoots down pro-LGBT bill to require gender-neutral terms for parents

Blue and White pilloried for failing to back legislation that would have replaced language on official forms with ‘parent’ instead of ‘mother’ or ‘father’

Blue and White Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, left, speaks at the Knesset plenum as coalition whip Miki Zohar (Likud) looks on, on October 28, 2020. (Shmulik Grossman/Knesset)
Blue and White Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, left, speaks at the Knesset plenum as coalition whip Miki Zohar (Likud) looks on, on October 28, 2020. (Shmulik Grossman/Knesset)

Pro-LGBT legislation that sought to make official state documents more inclusive of same-sex couples was rejected by the Knesset Wednesday.

The bill fell 48 to 25 in its initial reading after Blue and White abstained, despite supporting the measure on paper, in order to toe the line of its right-wing and ultra-Orthodox coalition partners. Only members of Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu and one Blue and White MK voted for the legislation.

The measure would have changed the parental information section of all government forms and documents, including identity cards and passports, to read “parent 1” and “parent 2” as opposed to the current heteronormative categories of “mother” and “father.”

Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg, who is openly gay, broke ranks with the rest of his party to support the measure.

Knesset member Eitan Ginzburg at the Knesset, on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White) was also present during the vote but abstained. Blaming the Likud party, Nissenkorn said the legislation had not been brought before government ministers, and that it could not be supported before first being agreed upon by the coalition partners.

“I have made it clear to the plenum that I am determined to promote equality in all areas of life, including the LGBT community, with broad consensus,” he said.

Nissenkorn added that there were many official forms that could be changed already, and Blue and White ministers would see to changing the forms within their respective ministries, he said according to Walla news.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) attacked Blue and White, and accused Nissenkorn of selling out his convictions.

“There is a point when a person needs to say that if he is working against his own values and conscience, he is not a good person. You all are approaching this dangerous threshold,” he said.

Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid speaks at the Knesset plenum on October 28, 2020. (Shmulik Grossman/Knesset)

The bill was introduced by Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav Hertzanu, who is also gay. He attacked Blue and White, saying that he “did not ask for equal rights” but rather sought for lawmakers to recognize “the existing reality, which is that there are all kinds of families in Israel.

“But apparently even this is already too much for Blue and White and Likud.Tthey could not even give us this small victory,” Lahav Hertzanu added. “The next time Benny Gantz and Avi Nissenkorn come to ask for the vote of the LGBT community, remember today, remember how they torpedoed this legislation.”

Joining the coalition in voting down the measure were the Joint List and right-wing Yamina parties, both of which are in the opposition.

Last week, Yamina party head Naftali Bennett expressed support for LGBT rights in Israel, but later said that did not mean he would actually vote for those rights.

Then-defense minister Naftali Bennett delivers a statement to the media in Ariel, in the West Bank, January 26, 2020. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

“I didn’t say we will advance any law,” he said. “I said I respect the LGBT and that they deserve all of the civil rights.”

A bill put forward by Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich on Wednesday to establish a parliamentary inquiry committee on conflicts of interest in the judiciary was rejected by the Knesset in a 55 to 4 vote.

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