Israeli Minister Says Doctors Should Be Allowed to Refuse LGBT Patients

Israeli politician and incoming minister, Orit Strook, caused concern with recent anti-LGBT comments. Belonging to Benjamin Netanyahu's new government, Strook has suggested that Israeli doctors should be allowed to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients, alluding to religious differences. Many now fear that the new government will become an unprecedented threat to the queer community and their rights.

Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, has deemed Strook's remarks "unacceptable." The prime minister has denied that his newly formed government will cause any problems for the LGBTQ community. However, many critics state that the right-wing ultranationalist coalition partners will overpower Netanyahu. Many such ultra-orthodox members of the new Israeli government are pushing the country to adopt its ancient religious heritage.

In a radio interview on December 25, Orit Strook, the incoming national missions minister, was heard saying that doctors of Israel would be able to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients. Strook said doctors could refuse to tend a patient if it is against their religious views "as long as there are enough other doctors who can give this service." The minister belonging to the Religious Zionist party said that her party is in favor of an amendment to an anti-discrimination law that would allow service providers to deny their services if their religious beliefs are violated. This is in accordance with the principle specified in Netanyahu's coalition agreement with the highly conservative Torah Judaism party.

Strook's controversial comments were heavily criticized, which later resulted in her tweeting that she had been referring to types of medical procedures that would be religiously questionable, not explicitly targeting the LGBTQ community. Strook did not specify these procedures but stressed that it was inconceivable for a Jewish doctor to break their religious laws in the Jewish state of Israel "that was established after 2000 years of exile due to Jews who sacrificed their lives for the fulfillment of Torah".

Simcha Rothman, another member of the Religious Zionist party, stated that hotel owners might deny rooms to LGBTQ groups. "Freedom of occupation means that someone is allowed to act not nicely to the assortment of customers and to boycott or not to boycott them."

Suppose such a change to the laws is implemented. In that case, it'll also impact Arab minorities in the country, further strengthening the Jewish fundamentalists in support of the annexation of the occupied West Bank.

Executive director of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, Alon Shachar, stated, "The changes the new government seeks to lead are liable to bring us to a situation in which LGBTQ people return to living in a reality of fear, violence, and racism,"

"If these ideas materialize and become reality in deeds, they will affect not only the gay community but all Israeli society."

The chief executive of Israel Gay Youth, Ofer Newman, had termed the statements and the new legislation "dangerous." He said, "We're in a new situation in which politicians who want to push people back to the closet possess ministerial power. We are in a frightened and alert mindset."

The President of Israel, Issac Herzog, is very concerned about the growing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the country. Herzog said, "The racist pronouncements of recent days against the LGBTQ community and other sectors of the public make me extremely worried and concerned."

Although the post of the President is mainly ceremonial in the country of Israel, Herzog commands with his degree of authority that this anti-queer rhetoric is undermining Israel's "democratic and moral values."

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