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Amir Ohana elected Israel's first openly gay Parliament Speaker

He is the third most senior figure after the president and prime minister, according to the country's Constitution
Last Updated : 29 December 2022, 16:20 IST

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Former minister Amir Ohana was elected as Israel's first openly gay Speaker of parliament on Thursday, ahead of the swearing-in of the new government.

An MP since 2015, the member of incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party was elected with 63 votes in favour, five against and one abstention during a parliamentary vote.

He is the third most senior figure after the president and prime minister, according to the country's Constitution.

In 2019, he became the first gay man to hold a ministerial post when he was selected as Netanyahu's justice minister.

A coalition agreement between Netanyahu's Likud and Avi Maoz, the leader of the anti-LGBTQ Noam party, shocked Israel's gay community.

According to the agreement, Maoz will be appointed deputy minister in charge of "Jewish identity".

Maoz vowed to "study the legal avenues to cancel Gay Pride", he told Israeli radio after the elections, as he joined the far-right formation Religious Zionism.

The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, recently pledged to judge the government "on its actions rather than on the declarations of certain politicians in the campaign".

"I've been to gay pride, I've marched in Jerusalem, I've marched in Tel Aviv and I plan to march again. There's no doubt in my mind that there will be another gay pride in Jerusalem," Nides told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Israel is more progressive on LGBTQ rights than many of its Middle East neighbours and recognises the marriages of same-sex couples who wed abroad.

The outgoing coalition government passed legislation banning so-called "gay conversion therapy" and granting surrogacy rights to all.

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Published 29 December 2022, 16:20 IST

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