The Orthodox Jewish Parties in Israel, four of them, now dominate Israel’s government. They have pushed greatly curtailing LGBTQ civil rights. This has led to a strong pushback from the Israeli secular community and the parties that are now not in power in the new government. In my view, both sides are partly right and partly wrong. The Jewish press in Israel has referenced some of the battles in the United States on these same issues.
Until now, the primary Orthodox push back against the LGBTQ movement has been to protest the gay parade in Jerusalem as contrary and offensive to the character of Jerusalem as a religious city. They have not been able to stop this parade.
Today the Orthodox push back seeks to pass laws that would release those who do not want to provide services to LGBTQ people. This is being stated broadly as a religious conscience accommodation. Event halls owned by religious people, or medical services by Orthodox doctors, and business services people in general are to be given liberty to not provide as long as others can provide these services. The issue of what counts as public services and accommodations are not well defined. Shouldn’t a doctor help all people? Of course, religious doctors do not want to perform abortions or give gender blocking hormones or do gender re-assignment surgery. This would be terribly against conscience for some.
It seems like the Supreme Court in the United States is drawing reasonable lines where public accommodations and services have to be offered without discrimination while offering relief for conscience. The conscience exception is for a person who runs a business that is the creative expression of an artist, the cake maker or wedding planner since they would be required to engage in creative speech, art, which is against their beliefs. The court seems to be moving to accommodate personal services from doctors for procedures that are against their conscience. They also accommodate religious non-profit organizations so they may foster their faith convictions by hiring staff, teachers, etc. that are in accord with their faith confession. Orthodox Jews can hire only Orthodox Jews, Catholics only Catholics and Evangelicals only Evangelicals. In this way the LGBTQ agenda is not permitted to destroy free speech and religious based organizations that follow their convictions. We see this in the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization that did not want to provide health insurance with abortion and contraceptive coverage. Radical leftists do not want these reasonable accommodations, but act from a totalitarian conformity streak which I also see with some of the left in Israel. I hope that the Israel government can come to some balance in all this. Freedom of religion and speech are at stake but so are some basic civil rights.