By Matthew Sneed
Impunity Watch Reporter, The Middle East
JERUSALEM, Israel – On September 13, Yigal Guetta was forced to resign from his seat in the Israeli parliament because he attended the wedding of his gay nephew. The ultra-Orthodox politician is a member of the religious Shas party. However, the event in controversy sparking his resignation occurred two years ago.
On August 29, Mr. Guetta went on Army Radio to promote his daughter’s new single. The goal was to provide a more liberal face to the party and to voters. But he surprised the audience when he said that he had attended the wedding of his gay nephew two years earlier. Prior to attending the wedding, he told his children, “We’re going to make him happy because he’s my sister’s son and I want him to be happy, but I want you to know that according to the Torah this [wedding] is forbidden and an abomination” He also told the radio that he declined to provide a blessing under a huppah, or marriage canopy.
Despite his statement of his personal feelings regarding gay marriage, five rabbis associated with the party wrote a letter demanding the removal of Mr. Guetta from office. As a result of strict-Orthodox control of Jewish weddings, same-sex marriage is not officially recognized in Israel. Some couples circumvent this by getting married abroad. Apart from religious ceremonies, Israel has tried to promote a progressive platform for the LGBT community. The military welcomes members of the gay community and individuals are open about their sexuality in other professions as well, including politics.
The incident has created a debate in the Shas party over whether people should strictly obey Jewish law, or if other traditions should take precedent over the law, including the “sanctity of the family.”
While Mr. Guetta has not addressed the public, sources have said that he refused to apologize for his attendance of the wedding and he wanted to step down before he was asked by party leaders.
Yair Lapid, the leader of the secular Yesh Atid party tweeted, “It’s sad that in Israel in 2017 a [Member of the Knesset] is forced to resign because he participated in the wedding of two people who love each other.”
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