Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday addressed an LGBTQ gathering, in what he said was the first appearance by a sitting Israeli premier at an official event held by the gay community.
“Every person has the basic right to be a parent and start a family,” he said at the event in Tel Aviv to mark 20 years since the founding of Israel Gay Youth, which serves LGBTQ youth in Israel. The group, too, noted that Lapid’s visit was a first for a serving prime minister and that it marked an important milestone, according to Hebrew news site Ynet.
“The Israeli government will stand against any display of violence or hatred against the [LGBTQ] community,” Lapid added. “No one has a mandate over your body and definitely not over your feelings.”
The prime minister argued a large swath of Israelis support same-sex marriage, which is illegal in Israel, citing a 2019 poll saying 78 percent believe gay marriage and civil unions should be legal.
“If most of the public is with us, why did all our bills on the matters fall or get stuck? Why am I the first Israeli prime minister to arrive at an event for the gay community?” Lapid asked rhetorically, accusing other politicians of being “scared” of backing changes.
“Our mission as people who believe in respect and equality for everyone is to yell and fight no less than the homophobes and racists. They are losing this war. They will remain racists and homophones, but their kids will no longer be,” he added.
Prior to its collapse in June and the calling of new elections, the government led by Lapid and then-prime minister Naftali Bennett did not deal extensively with gay rights issues. The diverse parties in the coalition were often at odds with each other on the matter, though Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and his left-wing Meretz party made equal rights for the LGBTQ community a central plank of their policies.
Earlier this year, the Health Ministry began allowing same-sex couples, single men and transgender people to parent children through surrogacy, an option that was previously banned for them in Israel. The decision was in line with a High Court of Justice ruling on the matter.
Surrogacy as a route to parenthood had been open only to heterosexual married couples and to single women who have a genetic connection to the baby. Last July the High Court of Justice ruled that all legislation denying surrogacy rights to same-sex couples and single men would be null and void.
Horowitz also announced last August that all restrictions on blood donations from gay men would be lifted, a move that went into effect in October.