LGBT Israelis to strike nationwide after being denied surrogacy rights

LGBT Israelis are gearing up for a national strike after being denied the right to surrogacy in a newly-passed law.

The law, which passed by a vote of 59-52 in the Knesset on Wednesday, expands state support for surrogacy services to single women, but excludes single men and gay couples.

Israel’s Airports Authority has warned that flights to the country are likely to be delayed as a result of a planned national strike on Sunday by LGBT groups, following widespread anger reports the Times of Israel.

Revellers celebrate along a sea side avenue in Tel Aviv during the Israeli city's annual Gay Pride parade on June 8, 2018. - Tens of thousands of people gathered along the beach in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv for the largest Gay Pride event in the Middle East. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Attendees enjoy the 2018 Tel Aviv Pride parade (GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP/Getty)

The strike was called by Israel’s national LGBT association, the Agudah. “For the first time ever, the gay community will go on a national strike,” a statement posted by the group on Wednesday night said.

It added: “On that day workers from the community, and likewise our supporters and partners, will not be present at work and will close their businesses to protest the blatant discrimination against the LGBT community and the deterioration that has begun recently due to the government’s efforts to roll back our campaign.”

Companies such as Facebook, IBM, E-Bay and Fiverr have all said they will permit employees to strike against the law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said earlier this week that would support a proposed amendment to extend surrogacy rights for gay couples – before backing down in the face of pressure from ultra-Orthodox members of his ruling coalition.

Protesters blocked roads in the centre of Tel Aviv on Wednesday night after the amendment failed to pass, allegedly shouting: “Netanyahu is homophobic, so we have taken to the streets.”
His reversal was slammed by opposition parties as ‘cowardly’ and ‘spineless’.

Netanyahu had said he would support surrogacy rights for gay couples before backtracking (Getty)

Yair Lapid, leader of the secular centrist Yesh Atid party, told the Jerusalem Post: “Two days ago, Netanyahu promised at a meeting for the Likud Party that he would support a law that would allow LGBT fathers to be parents, but yet he voted against it. He’s a coward.”

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak also condemned the u-turn, saying that Netanyahu was an “audacious liar” and a “coward.”

Before Wednesday’s amendment, the right to surrogacy was only permitted for married heterosexual couples.

It also raises the surrogacy limit from two children per family to five.