Ultra-Orthodox Israeli politicians snub swearing-in of new gay MP
Israel’s newest openly gay MP was sworn in this week – but some Members of Parliament snubbed the ceremony.
Openly gay politician Amir Ohana took up a spot in the Knesset for the right-wing Likud party, after a previous lawmaker was forced to step down amid a scandal.
Mr Ohana is head of Likud’s gay forum, and has four-month-old twins with his male partner.
However, when the lawmaker was sworn in this week there were a number of conspicuous absences – with Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers of the United Torah Judaism party boycotting the event, while the Shas Party also snubbed it.
The Times of Israel reports that the UTJ party does not plan to engage with Mr Ohana in any way, instructing lawmakers to “ignore him, today and altogether.”
In his maiden speech, Mr Ohana described himself “in no particular order” as a “Jew, Israeli, Mizrahi, homosexual, a Likud member, a security buff, a liberal and a man of the free market”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “proud” to have Mr Ohana in the Knesset, adding:”He will be an excellent MK and a bridge between the various elements of the public.”
Despite being gay himself, Mr Ohana is a divisive figure in Israel’s LGBT community.
He has been sharply critical of LGBT groups in the past, accusing “leftists” of running “poisonous attacks” on his party.
He told Haaretz in an interview last year: “The gay community needs to grow up.
“I am against the method of berating, invectives and boycotts every time someone disagrees with the agenda.”
Earleir this year, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shlomo Amar, claimed homosexuality will “disappear” because Jerusalem is “disgusted” by it.
The ultra-Orthodox preacher said: “I believe that this phenomenon [homosexuality] will wane and disappear, because most of the public is disgusted by it and detest it.”