First Published: 2017-09-13

Israeli MP quits after backlash for attending gay wedding
Ultra-orthodox Jewish lawmaker Guetta hands in resignation after harsh reaction to admittance of attending nephews gay wedding two years ago.
Middle East Online

Israel known for supporting gay rights, but it remains taboo among the country's most religious

JERUSALEM - An ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israeli lawmaker quit his seat on Wednesday under fire from religious colleagues and rabbis for attending a gay relative's wedding, his daughter said.

Yigal Guetta recently told a radio interviewer about the marriage of his nephew, which took place two years ago but still brought a harsh reaction from prominent rabbis, local media reported.

On Wednesday morning he handed his resignation to the chairman of his Shas party, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

His daughter Simcha Guetta said she was proud of him for his family loyalty.

"It's his nephew," she told Israeli public radio.

"In submitting his resignation he apparently knows what he is doing," she said. "I am behind him all the way."

Yitzhak Vaknin, a fellow MP from the ultra-Orthodox Shas, said Guetta transgressed religious law by participating in a forbidden same-sex wedding ceremony.

"Yigal should not have taken part in that celebration," he told army radio.

"There is no situation in which it is permitted to take part in an event like that," he said. "It is totally forbidden."

In the August 29 army radio interview that sparked the criticism, Guetta said although he wanted to stand by his nephew he made it clear to his own children that his lifestyle was taboo.

"We went together to the wedding, me, my wife and my children," he said. "I told them 'attendance is mandatory'."

"At the same time, I told my children ... be aware that the Torah says it is forbidden."

While the Jewish state is considered a trailblazer in the promotion of and respect for gay rights, homosexuality remains taboo among the religious and ultra-Orthodox parties wield significant political power.

Civil marriage does not exist in Israel, where marriage and divorce are entirely controlled by religious authorities and homosexual weddings are not recognised.

When the Israeli interior ministry announced in 2014 that it would, however, recognise same-sex marriages performed abroad, Shas MP Nissim Zeev lambasted what he called "the dangerous institutionalisation of the phenomenon of homosexual families in Israel".

In 2008, another Shas lawmaker, Shlomo Benizri, blamed homosexuals for an earthquake that struck Israel and the region.

"God says you shake your genitals where you are not supposed to and I will shake my world in order to wake you up," he said.


Rebels evacuate Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Sarkozy says life ‘living hell’ since corruption allegations

Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

In world first, flight to Israel crosses Saudi airspace

Saudi, US must pursue 'urgent efforts' for Yemen peace: Mattis

US, Jordan launch new counterterrorism training centre

Two Hamas security force members killed in raid on bomb suspect

Turkey gives watchdog power to block internet broadcasts

EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s ‘illegal’ actions in Mediterranean

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting