Debate over surrogacy draws thousands of Israelis into the streets

Tens of thousands of Israelis poured into the streets across the Israel to voice their displeasure with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – in an extraordinary public protest. At issue is the government’s refusal to pay for single men or gay male couples to have children using surrogates.

via LA Times

Israel’s welfare system has long paid for surrogacy for single women and married heterosexual couples who are unable to have children on their own.

Last Monday, Netanyahu announced that he’d support an amendment extending state subsidies for surrogacy to single men and gay couples — a move that apparently upset religious conservatives in his fragile coalition government. Two days later in the parliament he voted against it without explanation, and the amendment narrowly failed.

The protest began the same day, as members of the LGBTQ communities in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem gathered spontaneously to demonstrate. By Thursday, technology companies that have sustained Israel’s reputation as the “start-up nation” had joined the cause.

Microsoft’s Israel affiliate announced that it would pay 60,000 shekels, about $16,500, for any gay employee to use a surrogate.

IBM issued a statement Friday decrying the law: “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.”

Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images