“Up until five, six years ago, everyone in Israel automatically assumed that if you were gay, you supported the left. That is no longer the case,” MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) told Israeli and European LGBT activists in right-wing political parties at a June 2014 gathering in Tel Aviv.
On December 28, 2015, Member of Knesset Amir Ohana became the first openly gay parliamentarian in the Likud political party. His husband Alon, their four-and-a-half month old twins, and members of the Likud Pride Group, the LGBT-equality group in the Likud party, attended his induction ceremony at the Knesset.
“I am here as the son of Meir and Esther Ohana, who emigrated from Morocco to build a country. I am here with my other half, Alon, my true love. I am here as the father of the children Elah and David. And like [the biblical] David who defeated Goliath in the Valley of Elah, I am here against all the odds. I am here with all of who I am and what I am, what I’ve chosen and what I haven’t, and am proud of it all: Jewish, Israeli, Mizrahi, gay, Likudnik, a security hawk, a liberal, and a man of the free market,” Ohana said in his first Knesset speech.
Ohana is the second openly gay MK in the current 120-member Israeli legislature. Labor party’s Itzik Shmuli is also gay.
But being gay is not the be-all and end-all of who Ohana is. The 39-year-old is also a lawyer, a major in the Israeli army reserves and a former member of the Shin Bet security service. “I am not only gay; I have more to give,” he recently told JNS.org.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Ohana to the Knesset, saying he was “proud” to have him in parliament.
For members of the LGBT community in Israel, Ohana’s appointment is immense.
“When we formed Likud Pride four years ago, our goal was to increase the LGBT community’s visibility, and to further equal liberties for all. MK Ohana’s election is a huge step in this direction. I have no doubt he’ll be joined soon by additional MKs in the Likud, excellent people, who also happen to be LGBT,” Evan Cohen, a linguistic lecturer at Tel Aviv University and a founding member and first chairman of Likud Pride, tells ISRAEL21c.