Israeli ministers suggest doctors and hotels could refuse gay people

Even though lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Israel are considered the most developed in the Middle East, on Sunday a member of the far-right Religious Zionism party, one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s incoming ministers suggested that doctors should be allowed to deny services to people on religious grounds.

“If a doctor is asked to give any type of treatment to someone that violates his religious faith, if there is another doctor who can do it, then you can’t force them to provide treatment,” said Orit Strock in a public radio interview. “Anti-discrimination laws are just and right when they create a just, equal, open and inclusive society,” she added.

Lawmaker Simcha Rothman, also from the Religious Zionism party backed Strock on Twitter writing: “Let’s make it simple. Liberty means that people can also do things that I do not like. Freedom of speech means that one can also say things that are unpleasant about religious people, Arabs or LGBTQ+. Freedom of occupation means that a person is also allowed not to behave nicely to clients, and boycott or not, and the clientele will or will not punish him for it. That is liberty. Shocking, right?”

Incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns Strock’s comments, calling them “unacceptable to me and to members of Likud.” “The coalition agreements do not allow for discrimination against LGBT people or for harming the right of any citizen in Israel to receive service. Likud will guarantee that there will be no harm to LGBT people or any Israeli citizen,” stated Netanyahu.

Leading hospitals and healthcare providers, said it is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath that doctors must take and declared in response: “We treat everyone.”

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will present his government to the Knesset on Thursday, an alliance formed with his partners from the ultra-orthodox and far-right parties. Netanyahu has already been premier longer than anyone ever in Israel, a record 12-year term from 2009 to 2021 and a stint from 1996 to 1999.