MK Michaeli apologizes for anti-gay comments

Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker had said gays ‘commit suicide at 40,’ slammed TV shows that depict gays in positive light

Anastassia Michaeli (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Anastassia Michaeli (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastassia Michaeli apologized Thursday for anti-gay comments she had made a day earlier during a Knesset meeting.

In a Knesset discussion Wednesday on sexual harassment, Anastassia Michaeli said that homosexuals are people “who were victims of sexual abuse as children,” and that “they commit suicide at the age of 40.”

“I’m sorry if anyone was hurt,” Michaeli said. “I respect the wishes of every person to live their own way, but a person’s everyday reality sometimes includes coping with difficult adversities, which is sometimes expressed, extremely, by suicide.”

Michaeli said there is a “conspiracy of silence and denial” surrounding the issue and that she was merely trying to raise awareness and that she was misunderstood.

On Thursday Yisrael Beytenu distanced itself from Michaeli’s remarks, saying that her comments were “her personal opinion and do not represent the party’s stance.” On Friday morning, Army Radio reported that sources from within the party predict that Michaeli will not be on the party list for the next election.

On Wednesday, Michaeli also spoke out against television programs that showed homosexuals in a positive light. The legislator, who made headlines earlier this year for pouring water over a fellow MK, also lashed out at Channel 10 for “showing how seemingly nice it is to be gay.”

Where does Channel 10 get the right to “show men dancing in skirts and makeup,” Michaeli asked, saying it was time to address the topic.

In a press release on Thursday, Michaeli’s party hastily distanced itself from her comments, saying they are “her personal opinion and do not represent the party’s stance.”

MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called on Yisrael Beytenu to take further action. “Although I have few expectations from Michaeli’s party and the coalition they’re part of, this time they must take measures against her,” he said. The only way to combat such comments and discrimination against the gay community is by legislation, Horowitz said, noting that earlier in the week the government rejected a bill he submitted on the matter. “Anastasia’s not alone,” quipped Horowitz

Spokespeople from the LGBT community also criticized Michaeli harshly for her statements.

Dror Mizrachi, head of the Meretz party’s gay forum, invited Michaeli to see how members of the gay community live their lives. Her knowledge of the community “is based on stereotypes and prejudice,” he said, and asked her to cease her “strange comments” and to “start acting on behalf of equality for the gay community in Israel.”

The Labor Party’s LGBT activists told Maariv that Michaeli’s comments “harmed the values they were trying to promote — of equality and minority rights.” Saying that Michaeli’s sayings belonged in the Dark Ages, they expressed their thanks to Channel 10 for screening shows of such a nature. The statement also wished Michaeli, a mother of eight, that “one of her children will be LGBT, and we hope she will lovingly accept him or her.”

MK Carmel Shama-HaCohen (Likud) reacted to Michaeli’s statements via Facebook. “What was said at one of the Knesset’s committees,” he wrote, “is a miserable, dark comment disconnected from reality.”

Avner Dafni, CEO of the Israel Gay Youth organization, released a statement voicing his amazement that a 21st century politician would say such things. “Michaeli’s comments belong to a time when they’d burn witches at the stake,” he wrote, calling her comments “verbal violence” that’s harmful to young members of the LGBT community, who often find themselves “without support at home and facing problems at school.”

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