Likud parliamentarian Amir Ohana has been elected this Thursday as the new speaker of the Knesset, thus becoming the first openly gay person to hold the position, amid growing concerns over statements by various ultra-Orthodox and ultra-right parties that will be part of the new government.

The confirmation of Ohana, who was Minister of Justice and Public Security in the past, has taken place within the framework of a session in which the new Executive, headed by the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, will now take office. who will thus return to office just over a year after his electoral defeat in 2021.

Ohana, who has a partner and two children, was sworn in as a parliamentarian in 2015, a session in which deputies from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism and Shas parties, part of the new government coalition, left the chamber as a gesture of protest.

During the day, the leader of the far-right party Avi Maoz, has said that “he has nothing against LGBT people and leftists”, although he has qualified that “he opposes the LGBT as an idea and the left as an ideology”. . “I have nothing against specific people, in fact being sorry for those who live and act against the Torah,” he has stated.

“My criticisms always revolve around ideology, agendas and organizations that use people for the benefit of those agendas. I’m not talking about anyone who is attracted to people of their own gender, but about LGBT as an idea and political movement”, he stated, according to the Israeli newspaper ‘Haaretz’.

Thus, Maoz, who will lead a position on Jewish National Identity that will control the content taught in schools, has criticized those who “try to deliberately and maliciously present him as a person who fights (…) against these or those people”, referring to members of the LGBTQ community and leftists. In the past, the Noam leader has described himself as “a proud homophobe” and called liberal stances within Judaism “dark.”

For his part, the leader of Religious Zionism, Bezalel Smotrich, has described Ohana as “a valuable man who now assumes an important and challenging position,” according to the i24 television network. Smotrich has expressed opinions against the LGBTQ community in the past, so his words represent a distance from these positions.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog recently expressed concern over several comments by politicians in the incoming coalition government, which even led Netanyahu to clarify that discrimination on religious grounds will not be enshrined in law.

In this sense, Herzog declared himself “concerned” by the increase in “comments against the LGBT community and against any different group or sector.” “A situation in which citizens of Israel feel threatened by their identity or beliefs undermines the fundamental democratic values ​​of the State of Israel,” he concluded.

Religious Zionism parliamentarian Orit Strock, who will be a minister in the next Executive, recently stated that doctors should be able to deny treatments that go against their faith, as long as another is willing to give the same treatment.

In fact, the Israeli president contacted Netanyahu to show his concern about the alleged plans to amend the country’s anti-discrimination laws. The coalition agreement between Likud and Religious Zionism would include a clause to amend this legislation and allow employers to deny a service if it violates their religious beliefs, according to Israeli media.

For this reason, Netanyahu, who has denied the existence of this clause in the agreement, stated on Monday that he “totally rejects” Strock’s comments and assured that the next government “will not allow LGBT people to be discriminated against or that the rights of Israelis are undermined.” “The coalition agreements do not allow discriminating against LGBT people or harming the right of any Israeli citizen to receive services,” he promised.

For his part, Strock came out of the way of criticism and has asked on Twitter to “calm the outrage.” “No one intends to discriminate against LGBT people because of their identity. Neither in medical services nor in other services. They are human beings and deserve dignity and respect like everyone else,” she added.

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