Thousands of students take to the streets to protest Israeli education minister who said being gay isn’t ‘normal or natural’

Nick Duffy January 15, 2020
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A previous rally against Israel's Education Minister Rafi Peretz on July 14, 2019.

A previous rally against Israel's Education Minister Rafi Peretz on July 14, 2019. (JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel’s education minister Rafi Peretz is facing protests from young people, after claiming that his kids couldn’t be gay because they grew up in “a healthy and natural way.”

Peretz, the head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, has faced anger after he insisted in an interview that “a normal family is a man and a woman.”

When asked how he would respond if one of his own children came out as gay, he had said: “Thank God my kids grew up naturally and healthy. They’re building their families from Jewish values.”

The minister faced a demonstration on Wednesday over his latest inflammatory remarks.

Education minister faces protests from school students

According to The Times of Israel, thousands of students attended a protest against the minister’s remarks in  Tel Aviv.

Organiser Hila Koren, 16, said: “Ministers and politicians who are supposed to be leading the country, who are supposed to represent all of the various communities and the different sexual tendencies, they can’t come along and say what is normal, they can’t come and trample entire communities, people with feelings and thoughts.”

Ran Erez of the Secondary School Teachers Association praised the young organisers for their “moral stance of the right for every person to live as he wishes.”

He added: “With their actions they demonstrate exemplary practical citizenship.”

Justice minister Amir Ohana, one of the country’s only gay politicians, also disavowed Peretz’s as “reprehensible, backwards and wrong.”

The Likud politician  wrote: “I condemn Minister Peretz’s unfortunate remarks, and not for the first time. His remarks do not reflect the government’s position.

“I grew up in a healthy, loving, loving family, and so are the children of many LGBT+ people in all parts of the country, across the political spectrum.”

The justice minister added his colleague’s views “are not based on knowledge and facts, but rather on prejudice.”

Rafi Peretz has been in hot water before

It is not the first time Peretz has come under fire for his views on LGBT+ issues – creating a storm of controversy in July 2019 when he suggested that “it is possible to convert” someone’s sexual orientation.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, the former teacher claimed: “I have a very deep understanding of this kind of education and I have done this [to students],” explaining: “The objective is first of all for him to know himself well… and then he will decide.”

Days later, he backtracked, making clear: “I never suggested conversion therapy, which I oppose utterly.”

More: Israel, Jewish Home, Rafi Peretz

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