Israeli politician criticised over further anti-gay comments
Israeli politician Anastasia Michaeli has further attacked Israel’s LGBT community amid wide-ranging condemnation and critique.
A member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, MK Anastasia Michaeli has spoken out again against the Israeli LGBT community, this time signalling out lesbians: ‘Young girls get pregnant, get abortions — which hurt their chances of having children, and in the end they become lesbians.’
Her remarks come a week after she said she apologised if ‘anyone was hurt’ by her statement during the Parliamentary Committee for the Advancement of Women that alleged gays were sexually abused as children, therefore commit suicide at 40 and are turning Israel into Sodom.
Days later another right wing MK Uri Ariel, chairman of the parliamentary State Control Committee, MK Uri Ariel stated that gays shouldn’t be drafted into the Israeli Army as they ‘negatively affect its effectiveness’.
Condemnation to MKs Michaeli and Ariel came from across the political spectrum, from Israel’s Education minister to out gay MK Nitzan Horowitz, and MK Carmel Shama-HaCohen.
However on 20 June, in an interview with Maariv daily MK Anastasia Michaeli remained indignant and unapologetic: ‘I won’t retract my comments or apologize’, she said. She further alleged that critique of her statement was motivated by sexism.
The legislator explained that homosexuality is due to the ‘fact’ that ‘explaining family values and educating toward normative sexual behaviour aren’t done well enough.’
She further stated: ‘Relationships between a man and a woman should be the norm in the State of Israel. And if some men feel it is the norm to live with a man, to participate in Gay Pride parades walking down the streets in underwear and even without – this is a breach of morality.’
‘This is an attack on children’s rights, an attack on family rights, and an attack on women’s rights,’ the lawmaker added. ‘It is violent and vulgar. It is ignorant and a completely unacceptable perversion.’
MK Dr. Einat Wilf, chair of the Independence Party and the Parliamentary Committee for Education publicly reprimanded MK Michaeli during its meeting stating: ‘This week, stark language was used against the LGBT community.’
‘From the moment that such things are expressed in parliament they are very significant and have strong implications.
‘Such expressions that attempt to mire an entire population send a negative message to the public that is possible to hurt this group or another. We must not forget that words carry much power, for positive or negative.’
She stressed the negative impact of such homophobic language can have on the young and their ability to incite some members of the public to hate.
Speaking with MK Dr. Wilf told me that: ‘I would say it was a case of a personal outbursts, and when such prejudice is expressed it is important to stress that it is unacceptable and has no place in public discourse. To my sorrow such homophobic prejudice exists.
‘However,’ she explained, ‘there has been a wave of condemnation across the political spectrum, which will continue to be expressed in the Knesset next week. Such outburst shouldn’t be taken as a broader trend. Both in terms of legislation and acceptance Israel is at a forefront in terms of LGBT rights.’
Meanwhile a police complaint has been lodged by a private citizen against MK Michaeli stating that her remarks were not only insulting, but constituted criminal incitement, as they legitimized attacks against LGBT people.
In a conversation with me, Shai Doitsh, chairperson of Israeli LGBT Association the Aguda, said: ‘Michaeli shows immense ignorance and there is no connection between her words and reality. It is regrettable that her and MK Ariel’s attempts at self-publicity are based on publicly attacking the LGBT community, without fully understanding serious implications and weight such incitement by legislators carry on the public at large.
‘Words have power and can lead in the most extreme case to violence, like what happened in our LGBT Youth centre in 2009, when two youths were murdered and fifteen injured by a homophobic attack. This is why we are going to protest tomorrow, Saturday, 23 June, in the same spot where this hate crime happened.
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‘We cannot merely accept rhetoric and promises made during remembrance days for the murdered members of our community.’
‘There is no doubt that we live in country where we enjoy relatively advanced LGBT rights, even compared to some European countries and the United States.
‘Yet it is precisely because of that we have to stress and demand from our leaders to match their political bragging and posturing over Israel’s LGBT rights through real actions: legislation for equality and more equitable distribution of resources for the LGBT community.’
Doitsh concluded: ‘So my redress is less aimed at her or MK Ariel’s hateful ignorance but more at their masters, Foreign Affairs Minister Avidgor Liberman, the Knesset’s chair, and Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu that have stayed silent on such incitements.
Shabi Gatenio, Gay Middle East’s Israel editor, stated: ‘I think its time for the LGBT community both in Israel and abroad to also do some soul searching.
‘While it’s good and appropriate to react to homophobes, it is important to contribute and help LGBT issues. Many of our community have no problems to spend vast amounts of money on clubbing and drinking but spend much less time and resources helping and respecting one another. This is a time to broaden our contribution and strengthen our struggle for LGBT rights.’