Anti-LGBTQ Israeli Pol Likens Marriage Equality to Incest

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday March 18, 2021

Israeli hardliner politician and leader of the far-right Religious Zionist Party Bezalel Smotrich likened marriage equality to incest, The Times of Israel reports.

Smotrich "has a history of controversial statements on the issue," the article noted, recounting the former Minister of Transport "was asked in an Army Radio interview for his reaction to comments made by... Eldad Rabinovich," who had "had spoken out against the openly gay Public Security Minister Amir Ohana".

Rabinovich, the article noted, had vowed that the Religious Zionist party would " 'restore naturalness' to Israeli society."

The interviewer asked Smotrich whether he saw the out minister as being "natural" as a member of the LGBTQ community, at which point the "interview quickly turned hostile," with Smotrich saying that though he and Ohana are friends, he "has a 'debate over values' with him and the broader LGBT community."

"Yes, there are individual rights and those are important, but beyond that there are also values and public interests," Smotrich argued, before asking "the interviewers whether the State of Israel would approve a marriage between a brother and a sister or between a mother and her son, apparently likening gay marriage to incest."

Smotrich told the interviewers that their refusal to embrace his intolerance was, in itself, intolerant.

"You and your friends' inability to demonstrate tolerance for my views — you are a thousand times more radical than me," the article quoted him as saying.

The Times of Israel noted Smotrich has long been an opponent of LGBTQ equality, recalling the "rose to national prominence" in 2006 "when he organized the 'Beasts Parade' in protest of LGBT pride.

"He later apologized for his involvement," the article added.

Wikipedia says of Smotrich that he "is said to have played a key role in Israeli legislation to legalize the annexation of Palestinian lands, and a law banning advocates for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement from visiting Israel."

Wikipedia also provides an overview of LGTBQ rights in Israel, summarizing that, "Although same-sex marriages are not performed in the country, Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was prohibited in 1992. LGBT people are also allowed to serve openly in the military."

The Israeli city of Tel Aviv is regarded as a gay-friendly oasis in the largely homophobic Middle East.

The article noted Smotrich had aligned himself with "the most fringe elements in Israeli society" as next week's election approaches.

"Recent polls have indicated Religious Zionism would scrape above the electoral threshold to win four seats," said Times of Israel.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.