1 of 4 | Israelis carry rainbow and the national flags during a protest against discrimination of LGBT individuals and the exclusion of gay men from the surrogacy law, passed last week by the government, outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's house in Jerusalem. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
July 22 (UPI) -- Protests seeking equal surrogacy rights for people in the LGBT community took place throughout Israel on Sunday.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and other cities after the Knesset --Israel's house of representatives -- passed a law granting state-supported surrogacy to single women, but excluding men, effectively making it impossible for men in same-sex relationships to have a child through a surrogate.
The law extended the right to lesbian couples, as the country considers both women in the relationship to be single women.
Protesters said the bill was discriminatory in blocking single men and gay couples and called for it to be amended.
"If the right exists in Israel -- if there are women who can have surrogacy, why can't men? Especially homosexual couples. We are here to protest against all the anti-democratic laws that have been enacted recently in the country, especially against the LGBT community," well-known Israeli drag queen Suzi Boum told The Jerusalem Post.
The Ayalon freeway in central Tel Aviv was shut down briefly as thousands of protesters marched along the roadway waving rainbow flags.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered near Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem and three people were arrested, the Times of Israel reported.
Netanyahu previously pledged to support an amendment to the bill to include access to surrogacy for single men and same-sex male couples, but later voted against it.
The Aguda, the National Association of LGBT in Israel, organized strikes in response to the bill.
"For the first time ever, the gay community will go on a national strike," said the Aguda. "On that day workers from the community, and likewise our supporters and partners, will not be present at work and will close their businesses to protest the blatant discrimination against the LGBT community and the deterioration that has begun recently due to the government's efforts to roll back our campaign."
Several companies in Israel expressed their support for the strike, granted employees permission to attend the protests and promised to implement new policies to allow workers to have children through a surrogate regardless of their sexual orientation.