As the Israeli government is set to vote on a bill that would deny same-sex couples state-supported surrogacy, thousands of LGBT activists demonstrated in the streets of Tel Aviv, reports The Jerusalem Post.
The bill, which was expected to become law on Monday on final readings in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, would alter current statute, making government grants, previously available only to married heterosexual couples accessible to single women. However, the state will still not offer same-sex couples the stipend. The grants will also be exclusive to women born in Israel.
"According to the prime minister’s fluent English we are in an LGBTQ paradise, but in reality our lives do not allow us to marry, we are not allowed to have children, and if we have already succeeded, we are overwhelmed by unnecessary difficulties," said Hen Arieli, chairman of the LGBTQ Association, during the march. "There is a limit to how much ‘no’ we can hear, and we will not remain silent until the discrimination ends."
She also advocated for the rights of same-sex couples in disputed territories.
“Our heart is with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in the Gaza perimeter and in the [Israel Defense Forces],” she said. “We are holding the demonstration to make our voices heard because the discrimination applies equally to all of us, and now that they are carrying the security burden, it is our duty to bear the burden of protest and struggle for them.”
Following the organized protest, more advocates came out Monday. The protesters blocked traffic on King George Street to speak out against the legislation.
“A year ago, the High Court of Justice sent the state to do homework with an unequivocal clarification that the only acceptable situation is an equal surrogacy law for everyone — any other arrangement will be humiliating,” said Mickey Ouzen, a board member for the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers. “For us this is the right to be parents, and we must not deny this right to anyone. We refuse to beg or to give up, we refuse to be sent to foreign countries to get licenses to be parents."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he supports amending the law to provide the grants to gay male couples, but activists say it is unlikely that his conservative government will follow through, Haaretz reports.