Israel, one of the most LGBTQI friendly countries in the world, is likely to add another rainbow feather in its cap.

The BBC reported that Yorai Lahav-Hertzano (31) from the Blue and White party will be sworn in next week to become the sixth openly gay Member of Parliament.

The Knesset, national legislature of Israel has 120 seats, which means that 5% of Parliamentarians are now openly gay, including two cabinet ministers.

“It’s rewarding to see an increase in the number of members of the Knesset who identify as gay. This clearly demonstrates that not being heterosexual is no longer a limit to entering politics in Israel,” Michael Barnett, co-convener of Aleph Melbourne, a Jewish LGBTQI support and advocacy group told Star Observer.

Israel is one of the few countries in the Middle East which supports LGBTQI rights. Same sex relations were legalised in 1983, and discrimination against LGBTQI persons were outlawed in 1992. Out LGBTQI people have been allowed to serve in the military since 1993 and gay adoptions are legal. Isarel does not have marriage equality, though it recognises foreign same sex marriages. According to Equaldex, a 2017 survey revealed that 79% of Israelis support gay marriages or civil unions.

Israel had its first openly gay MP in 2003 with the election of Uzi Even becoming the first openly gay member of the Knesset. However, the country is yet to elect an openly lesbian or trans MP.

The other openly gay MPs in the current Knesset are Amir Ohana, Nitzan Horowitz, Eitan Ginzburg, Idan Roll, and Itzik Shmuli.

“I do hope that this increase in gay male members of the Knesset enables trans and gender diverse people along with bisexual people and lesbians to find an elected place in Israeli politics,” said Barnett. “More than that though, I hope that these six members of the Knesset can help bring about an increase in social legislative reform in Israel, including the introduction of civil marriage. Hardline religious groups in Israel cause great damage and misery to the lives of LGBTQI people, both within and external to their communities and their archaic attitudes need to be challenged and not be allowed to influence secular society.”

 In June 2019, Ohana (44) from the Likud party had become Israel’s first openly gay minister after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed him as acting justice minister. He was appointed as Minister of Public Security in May 2020 in the new government. Ohana and his partner Alon Hadad have two children through surrogacy.

Former journalist Horowitz (55) was the second openly gay MP in 2009. In June 2019, Horowitz became the first openly gay man to head an Israeli political party, when he defeated his rival for the leadership of the Meretz party. After his election, Horowitz, who lives with his partner in Tel Aviv, said that in the coming years it would not be “out of the ordinary” for a gay person to head a political party.

Ginzburg (43) was the first openly gay mayor of a city in Israel before he was elected to the Knesset. Ginzburg belongs to the Blue and White Party.

Idan Roll (36), model and lawyer turned politician, became an MP in the current Knesset after another member retired. Roll belongs to the Yesh Atid party. He and his partner, the musician Harel Skaat have a child.

Shmuli (40), came out in 2015, in an article in a daily newspaper during his term as an MP, following a stabbing incident at the Jerusalem Pride parade. Shmuli, who belongs to the Labor Party was sworn in last month as the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services.

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