An estimated 100,000 Israelis gathered on July 22 in Tel Aviv to oppose a new law excluding homosexual male couples from publicly financed parental surrogacy. Israel’s leading gay rights organization, the Aguda, organized what became one of the largest political demonstrations in the country’s history. The demonstration was well-attended in large part due to unprecedented support from the Israeli business community.
Corporate giants including Apple, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, as well as Israel-based Teva and IsrAir gave employees a paid day off to attend the demonstration, while others including Microsoft went so far as to offer non-discriminatory surrogacy benefits to employees. This marks a shift in the Israeli business community, which has traditionally avoided strong political stances for fear of losing customers to controversy. This time, influential companies did not shirk from taking a stand.
“One of Israel’s greatest gifts is the creativity, diversity and talent of its entire people,” Apple said in a company statement. “Unfortunately, recent legislation passed by the Knesset undermines those values. Apple will always maintain its values of fairness, dignity and mutual respect, and we stand with all of our employees seeking equality under the law.”
The allyship of Israel’s corporate community, and particularly the support of the high-tech sector could prove to be a catalyst for the LBGT+ movement’s progress in Israel.
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