Yesh Atid unveils detailed policy plan to promote LGBT equality

Lapid’s party announces LGBT activist for Knesset slate; vows to help transgender people, expand surrogacy laws and regulate LGBT studies in religious schools

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid presenting his party's platform on LGBT rights in a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 7, 2019. (Courtesy)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid presenting his party's platform on LGBT rights in a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 7, 2019. (Courtesy)

The centrist Yesh Atid party on Thursday released a detailed policy plan on promoting equality for the LGBT community in Israel, saying it would allocate NIS 50 million to fund local groups, outlaw “gay conversion” therapy for minors and introduce mandatory school studies on the matter.

Unveiling the plan at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Yair Lapid’s opposition party officially announced that activist Idan Roll will be on its Knesset slate for the upcoming general election in April.

Roll, an attorney, ex-model and LGBT rights activist, is the partner of popular singer Harel Skaat. The two have one son, born in August 2018, via a surrogate mother in the United States. Roll last year founded an LGBT activist group, and had been the head of Yesh Atid’s LGBT branch.

The 34-year old said that his drive to bring about change through public activity was born out of his personal experience and journey to have a child.

LGBT rights activist Idan Roll at a press conference organized by the Yesh Atid party in Tel Aviv on February 7, 2019. (Courtesy)

“If there is a single boy in Israel who is still bullied at school, if there is a single girl who is still afraid to tell her parents something deep about her sexual orientation, they need to know we are here and we are their family,” Lapid said.

“Yesh Atid has fought for the LGBT community more than any other party in the past six years,” said MK Yael German, citing a bill promoting surrogacy rights, which only passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset and hasn’t been signed into law.

During the event, Lapid and Roll presented the party’s new LGBT rights plan that aims to “end the discrimination” against the community and is one of the most comprehensive policy outlines ever published on the matter by any political party.

The party said it would change the law to introduce more stringent punishments for hate crimes against the community and pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also ban controversial “gay conversion” therapy for minors and criminalize running such therapy. The practice has been slammed as encouraging self-harm among homosexual clients.

(L-R) Yesh Atid MK Yael German, party leader Yair Lapid and LGBT rights activist Idan Roll who joined the party in a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 7, 2019. (Courtesy)

In addition, the plan would change the existing law on surrogacy to include gay couples; enable gay couples to be listed as parents more easily; let them adopt kids in Israel and abroad; and allow them to engage in a civil union recognized by the state.

Yesh Atid also dedicated part of its proposal to the transgender community. It would let individuals change the gender listing in their identity card and other official documents without having to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

The plan would enhance the Social Services Ministry’s assistance to the transgender community, to Arab-Israeli, religious and ultra-Orthodox LGBT people, and to LGBT people who work in prostitution. It would also establish a new employment plan for the transgender community, and introduce guidelines on their treatment in mental health institutions.

Regarding the education system, Yesh Atid said it would release guidelines on the treatment of the LGBT community in the education system, including in religious schools. It would incorporate mandatory LGBT-related studies in the education system and introduce an interministerial plan to support LGBT youth.

Most Popular
read more: