Major strikes are planned across Israel this Sunday (July 22) to protest a new law that essentially excludes LGBT couples from state-supported surrogate pregnancies. The law, which received a last-minute vote from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, previously allowed only heterosexual married couples to qualify for government-funded surrogacy under Israel’s national health care system.
The new law expands eligibility to include single women—but not single men. And as Israel does not yet recognize same-sex marriage, the change effectively rules out surrogacy for gay and lesbian couples.
“This is a huge disappointment,” says prominent LGBT activist and Tel Aviv city council member Yaniv Waizman. “The law purposely excluded single men because [its sponsors] did want gays to be included.”
The new law prompted immediate public protests from Israel’s vocal activist community—along with condemnation from private sector companies, particularly from the country’s many high-tech firms, committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. The law is also a challenge to Israel’s heavily promoted image as haven for LGBT rights in the Middle East, a reputation that has helped Tel Aviv...