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Israel election results point to gayest-ever parliament

Reiss Smith April 11, 2019
Benjamin Netanyahu saluting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel’s parliament will more than double its number of gay MPs after an election on Tuesday (April 9), according to the latest results.

With 97 percent of votes counted, it appears that three new gay lawmakers will be sworn into office, bringing the total up to five.

Eitan Ginzburg, Idan Roll and Yorai Lahav Hertzanu (Blue and White) will join Amir Ohana (Likud) and Itzik Shulmy (Labor) in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, the Jerusalem Post has reported.

Until now only four openly gay men have ever sat in the Knesset, with the first—Uzi Even—taking his seat in 2002.

To date not a single openly queer women or transgender person has been elected to the house.

Israel election: Prime Minister wins fifth term

Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set for a fifth term in office, despite his centre-right Likud remaining tied with the socially liberal Blue and White alliance.

Both factions have won 35 seats each by the most recent count. But after his opponent Benny Gantz conceded defeat on Wednesday (April 10), Netanyahu has a clear path to form a coalition government with right-wing allies.

The result will be met with trepidation by Israel’s LGBT+ community, members of which met with Netanyahu on Sunday (April 7).

Members of Israel's LGBT community meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu
Members of Israel’s LGBT community meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Facebook)

During the meeting, the first of its kind in 10 years, the prime minister reportedly blamed coalition pressures for a lack of progress on equal rights.

“Unfortunately, with the exception of hugs and warm words, we have not received any commitment to prevent LGBT-phobia incitement or any commitment to ending discrimination,” the Association for the LGBT Community in Israel wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“We have not received any commitment to prevent LGBT-phobia.”

—The Association for the LGBT Community in Israel

Israel is widely considered to have the most advanced LGBT+ rights of any Middle East nation, with Tel Aviv in particular promoted as a gay tourism hotspot.

LGBT+ citizens are allowed to serve in the military and cohabit with same-sex partners.

However, equal marriage remains elusive, and in 2018 there was a reported 54 percent increase in homophobic attacks.

More: Israel, Middle East

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