‘Gay Strike’ In Israel: Protestors Decry New Surrogacy Law That Excludes Gay Couples
On July 22, tens of thousands protestors flooded the streets of Tel Aviv to condemn a new surrogacy law that doesn’t include gay couples. The so-called “gay strike” by gays and lesbians and their supporters paralyzed parts on the city on Sunday which is a work day in Israel.
Israel’s welfare system has long covered the costs of surrogacy for single women and married heterosexual couples who were unable to get pregnant, but not for single gay men or gay couples.
Last Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support expanding the amendment to single men and gay couples. However, this apparently upset the religious conservatives in the government, causing Netanyahu to vote against it two days later.
The same day, protests had already begun. Additionally, large technology companies including Microsoft and IBM showed their disdain for the political move.
“My heart is with each and every employee in their desire to create a family,” said Assaf Rappaport, the chief executive of Microsoft’s research and development center in Israel.
The Israeli branch of the company said it would pay about $16,500 for gay employees in need of a surrogate.
IBM also released a statement:
“No one should be denied one of the most basic human rights — the right to start a family — for being who they are. We support IBMers who wish to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in advocating for legislation that is inclusive of ALL.”
Apple released a statement prior to the protests, supporting those who would participate.
“One of Israel’s greatest gifts is the creativity, diversity and talent of all of its people,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, recent legislation passed by the Knesset undermines those values. Apple will always maintain its values of fairness, dignity, and mutual respect, and we stand with all of our employees seeking equality under the law.”
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai joined protestors and said, “These people are protesting for something so basic, just human rights, against a government and a prime minister who misleads us. This is apparently the moment when the straw broke the camel’s back. There is an awakening.”