Likud MK Nissim Vaturi caused an outcry on Tuesday by saying that some parents deliberately decide to make their children gay in order to support LGBTQ values, including by giving their sons dolls to play with.
Vaturi gave an interview to the Knesset Channel in which he voiced support for the government’s recent decision to grant far-right MK Avi Maoz the authority to exercise oversight over educational vendors in public schools.
Maoz and his Noam party espouse anti-LGBTQ, anti-pluralist, and anti-feminist views, garnering significant concern and criticism from politicians and organizations opposed to his drive to exert control over the external educational vendors who supplement curricula in public schools.
Vaturi told the channel that children should be left alone to decide what they want to be and claimed that some parents deliberately try to encourage their children to be gay for ideological reasons.
“There are parents who encourage LGBT [values], they give a boy a doll because it seems to them that he should now be gay, but that is not right. No one should influence people, neither Avi Maoz nor secularists. You don’t need to promote things, you don’t need to promote LGBT issues. Let the child choose what to be, whether he is religious, secular or LGBT. A person should choose his own path,” said Vaturi.
The remarks drew outrage from Roee Neuman, one of the leaders of the anti-government protest movement that claims the current coalition is eroding Israel’s democratic values.
“Wow, I don’t know where to start explaining things to the homophobic scum Vaturi,” he tweeted. “I grew up in an environment where I didn’t know a single gay person, I didn’t play with dolls and I’m still really gay. No one turns anyone into a gay or trans person. I grew up with a crazy fear that they would find out that I’m gay.”
On Sunday the cabinet voted to grant Maoz oversight of the external programing in the schools as part of his Jewish National Identity Office.
The unit would have oversight of Gefen, the Education Ministry’s collection of approved, funded vendors, encompassing over 20,000 programs available to public school administrators. Spanning a range of offerings from sex education to bar mitzvah preparation to farming, external programming vendors are integral parts of public education.
In addition to a “transparency system for parents,” provided information on school extracurricular programming, Maoz’s Jewish National Identity Office will have three other purposes, according to the vaguely worded government decision.
The office will also “strengthen Jewish identity” via research projects and grant support, “assist and support educational institutions” with regards to Jewish national identity, and publish information about “deepening and strengthening Jewish national identity.”
Several opposition politicians and organizations expressed concern about Maoz’s planned return to the education arena, especially given his clear public positions against LGBT rights, gender parity, and pluralist approaches to Judaism.
Vaturi’s comments also come a day before the highly charged Jerusalem Pride Parade.
A far-right group is gearing up for potential violence at the parade, posting threatening messages in an internal chat group wishing for the deaths of the pro-LGBTQ marchers, a report said Monday.
Some 2,000 cops — some of them undercover — are expected to be deployed along the march’s route and around it, police said in a statement Monday. A far-right counter-protest will be held at the same time.
An ultra-Orthodox extremist murdered teenage marcher Shira Banki at the parade in 2015.