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Israeli Politician Suggests Doctors Could Deny Care to LGBTQ+ People

Two men kissing at Pride in Israel
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Advocates fear the incoming government will roll back LGBTQ+ rights.


One of the incoming ministers of Benjamin Netanyahu's government indicated that doctors in Israel should be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ+ patients over religious beliefs. It's added to already growing fears about what the incoming government will do to LGBTQ+ rights.

"The racist pronouncements of recent days against the LGBTQ community and other sectors of the public make me extremely worried and concerned," Israeli President Isaac Herzog said, according to The Guardian.

Netanyahu himself called remarks by Orit Strook "unacceptable."

While he has denied a rollback of LGBTQ+ rights in the country, critics say he'll have little sway over the far-right members of his coalition government that brought the long-time politician back to power on Thursday.

"Since Netanyahu is very, very weak he has no option [of handling] these extremist forces, some of whom are lunatics," Yossi Beilin, who previously served as a minister of justice for Israel, told The Guardian. "Maybe he intends not to implement these things but I'm not sure he can avoid doing so. These people are really zealots."

Strook, who is a member of the Religious Zionist party and is the incoming national missions minister, implied in a radio interview earlier this week that doctors should refuse treatment for queer people based on their religion. A doctor would be able to do so if legislation her party is proposing which would change the country's anti-discrimination law is adopted, The Guardian reports.

She said that a doctor could deny treatment "as long as there are enough other doctors who can give this service."

The politician said she meant that would be religiously objectionable, not specifically care to LGBTQ+ people.

"She did not specify which procedures they might be but stressed that it was inconceivable to force a Jewish doctor to violate Jewish law in a Jewish state 'that was established after 2000 years of exile due to Jews who sacrificed their lives for the fulfillment of Torah,'" the paper writes.

The Religious Zionist party has put forward the amendment to the anti-discrimination law and it's also been agreed upon as part of Netanyahu's coalition agreement with Israel's ultra-Orthodox Torah Judaism party.

Another member of the political party, Simcha Rothman, said that under the change in the law, hotels could turn away queer groups.

Beyond just targeting LGBTQ+ people, the changes would also impact the country's Arab minority citizens, according to the paper.

"We're in a new situation in which politicians who want to push people back to the closet possess ministerial power. We are in a frightened and alert mindset," said Ofer Newman, the chief executive of Igy (Israel Gay Youth).

Alon Shachar, executive director of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, told the Guardian, ""The changes the new government seeks to lead are liable to bring us to a situation in which LGBTQ people return to living in a reality of fear, violence, and racism. If these ideas materialize and become reality in deeds they will effect not only the gay community but all Israeli society."

Thursday's ushering in of the new government makes it the most far-right in Israel since the country was established. The new government is expected to make sweeping changes to the judicial system and take steps toward annexing the West Bank.

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