Hundreds of thousands of workers are expected to join today (Sunday) a nationwide strike to protest the law passed by the Knesset last Wednesday, July 18, that denies state-supported surrogacy to homosexual couples and single men.
A day after the Knesset voted to exclude same-sex couples from a law expanding Israel’s surrogacy rights, large swathes of Israeli businesses took the unusual step of entering the political fray and coming out forcefully for LGBT rights.
Over the course of the afternoon on Thursday support for a protest strike on Sunday over the issue spread rapidly, with dozens of major companies and Israel’s main labor federation, Histadrut, announcing that they would join the strike called by the Aguda LGBT task force, to protest the amended law. The Histadrut called on LGBT employees of the federation to take part in the strike and urged unions and organizations across the country to allow workers to take part in the protest.
Despite voicing public support for surrogacy for same-sex couples, on Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted against the amendment that would have given LGBT people access to surrogacy as well.
The bill expanded eligibility for state-funded surrogacy to include single women rather than only married heterosexual couples, as it had previously done. However, it stopped there, generating uproar among the LGBT community and its supporters.
The passage of the law immediately triggered demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the announcement of today’s strike. Massive demonstrations will be held today in Rothschild Boulevard in Tel-Aviv, Paris Square near the Prime Minister’s residence Jerusalem, near the port in Haifa, in Beer-Sheva, in front of Azrieli Mall in Tel-Aviv, Afula and at other locations. The main demonstration will be held at 20:30 in Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv.
“Now is our turn to say no,” the Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force – wrote in a Facebook post. “The gay community is going on strike! Lesbian women cannot register their children, transgender people are getting stabbed in the street, youths are experiencing LGBT-phobia in educational frameworks, the Knesset passes laws against equality – we will not continue our lives as usual, we will not allow bullying against the transgender community, the youths of the LGBT community and its members in the peripheries.”
“It is time to take off the gloves! For the first time in the history of the struggle, the gay community declares a strike! The excuses and smears will not work on us anymore. It’s a backward retreat and it’s dangerous!” the post continued. “The LGBT community is calling upon you, the LGBT and community supporters, to join us in a one-day nationwide strike on Sunday, July 22.”
Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), a leading activist of the Communist Party of Israel confirmed that “For the first time ever, the gay community will go on a national strike. On that day workers from the community, and likewise its 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 far-right government’s efforts to enforce discrimination.”