Metro Weekly

Netanyahu’s Likud Party Signs Agreements with Anti-LGBTQ Groups

Far-right, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Arab political parties secure positions as part of conservative Israeli governing coalition.

Benjamin Netanyahu – Photo: Paul Kagame, via Flickr.

Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party came in first during  the country’s November 1 election — officially setting them up to retake control of the Israeli government in 2023 — the long-serving party leader has been criticized for aligning with groups hostile to LGBTQ rights.

Recently, the Likud Party penned a deal with Avi Maoz, the head of NOAM, an enthnonationlist, anti-Arab, anti-LGBTQ religious fundamentalist party, that gives him a position in the Israeli government. Under the agreement, Maoz will assume the role of “deputy minister” and serve as an “authority” within the coalition government on “Jewish identity,” reports the BBC.

For LGBTQ people in Israel, such an appointment has led many to believe that the coming government may be willing to implement far-right policies that directly harm the LGBTQ community. Considering NOAM’s recent past, this is not an overreaction: in 2019, the party ran an ad campaign linking LGBTQ people to child trafficking.

In general, Noam has made anti-LGBTQ policies a key aspect of their party platform, implying in its literature and statements that opposition to LGBTQ rights and displays of LGBTQ visibility is “normal.”

“The man who called us perverts and pedophiles, and referred to our sexual orientations as ‘upside down,’ has no right being a deputy minister in an Israeli government,” the Aguda, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said in a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post. “His work revolves around an obsession to take away rights from the LGBTQ+ community and to legitimize hate against it. We will not allow even the slightest violation of our rights.”

Maoz has described LGBTQ people as a threat to the family and has said he wishes to cancel gay pride parades, particularly the Jerusalem Pride Parade, which has been a source of consternation among right-wing religious leaders. 

However, on December 1, Netanyahu, mindful of Israel’s global reputation as the lone Middle East’s lone liberal democracy — thanks, in part, due to its support for LGBTQ rights and freedom of expression — stated that the Jerusalem Pride Parade “will continue to march.”

“My government won’t harm the LGBTQ community or the rights of any Israeli citizen,” Netanyahu tweeted, according to i24 News. “We will care for all Israeli citizens with mutual solidarity and work to improve our lives. This is our mission.”

The Maoz appointment is not the only concerning thing that has some within the LGBTQ community, especially on the political Left, worried about the Likud-led government. Likud has also signed a deal with Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), a right-wing party led by Itamar Ben-Gvir—who is also one of the leaders of the Religious Zionism Alliance, an anti-Palestinian group that believes in the supremacy of Jews in Israel.

These agreements with far-right groups have also raised concerns that Netanyahu and the Likud Party will increase Israeli attacks and violence against Palestinians. While Netanyahu and Likud have always supported Zionist settler expansion into Palestinian territory, the additional far-right elements within the coalition government are likely to intensify the conflict. BBC noted that, in 2021, Maoz — in a visit to the “Jewish-Arab” city of Lod — claimed that the “blurring of the Jewish identity is the cause of the Arab enemy raising his head.”

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