Israeli politician Shlomo Karhi says Pride parades are ‘against nature’

Israeli politician Shlomo Karhi, who may be elected as an MP in April

Israeli politician Shlomo Karhi has been condemned for saying Pride parades “legitimise something that is contrary to the natural family unit.”

Karhi, who will be a candidate for Israel’s ruling Likud party in the national election on April 9, also told Israeli radio station Radio Darom “holding gay Pride parades is completely wrong,” according to Israeli news site Ynet.

“Everyone has the freedom to choose (how to live their life),” he added. “But I don’t think it’s appropriate to publicly display this behaviour.”

Revellers take part in the annual Pride parade on June 8, 2018 in Tel Aviv, Israel, which Shlomo Karhi has slammed

The annual Pride parade in Tel Aviv attracted 250,000 people in 2018. (Amir Levy/Getty)

The married father of five lectures at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, where a reported 250,000 people attended the Pride parade in 2018, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

He is 27th on the list of candidates for the right-wing Likud party. The number of candidates elected is decided by the percentage of votes each party gets and, with polls showing that Likud is set to repeat its 30-seat result from 2015, Karhi could be about to take office.

Shlomo Karhi criticised by activists—including his aunt

The backlash against Karhi was swift, with activists rushing to condemn the candidate.

These critics included Karhi’s aunt, Shosh Tuchfeld, who told Ynet she was “not surprised” by his comments.

“But I view these remarks as a challenge, and I’ll continue fighting against people who speak and think like in this way,” Tuchfeld added.

Tuchfeld, who has two gay sons and volunteers with national LGBT+ organisation Aguda, said her nephew did not see Pride parades for what they were.

“The members of the LGBT community who vote for Likud should know this is the man they will help get elected to the Knesset.”

— Aguda chair Chen Arieli

“My answer to Shlomo is that the Pride parades are a way of protest. It is a struggle for equal LGBT rights, for eradicating bullying, humiliations and shaming of the LGBT community,” she said.

“There are members of the LGBT community who are religious, and their situation is far worse because of this sort of reaction.”

Aguda chair Chen Arieli slammed Karhi and Likud, telling Ynet: “It is a disgrace for the Likud Party that Shlomo Karhi, a candidate who has yet to be elected to the Knesset (Israeli parliament), has become the sad joke of the next parliamentary session.”

She also wondered “whether Karhi shares his primitive and benighted opinions with MK Amir Ohana, who secured the 26th spot on the Likud’s Knesset list,” referring to Likud’s first openly gay MP, who was elected in 2015.

“The members of the LGBT community who vote for Likud should know this is the man they will help get elected to the Knesset,” Arieli added.