Israel set for nationwide strike over gay surrogacy ban

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel is set for nationwide strike action on Sunday over new legislation denying surrogacy to gay couples, with a trade union urging employers to let their staff join the walkout.

The move comes after parliament on Wednesday approved surrogacy for single women or those unable to bear children -- without granting the same right to same-sex couples or single men.

Previously, only heterosexual married couples were able to use a surrogate.

The Histadrut labour federation has backed strike action, urging its members to support workers who want to take part.

"The struggle for the equal rights of the LGBT community is an important one facing Israeli society," it said in a statement.

Histadrut chief Avi Nissenkorn has written to workers' committees across Israel "calling on them and management to allow employees who belong to the LGBT community to take part in the protest," it added.

Flight schedules could be disrupted at Israel's Ben Gurion airport due to the walkout, according to leading daily Yediot Aharonot.

The Israeli National LGBT Task Force urged supporters to join the strike and said the organisation would be taking legal action over parenthood rights.

"We will not stop fighting until the government respects our basic rights," the group wrote on Facebook.

The decision by lawmakers was followed by protest on Wednesday, with demonstrators blocking main streets in Tel Aviv, and further rallies are expected on Sunday according to Israel media.

Israel has been a trailblazer when it comes to gay rights, but same-sex relationships remain a taboo among religious conservatives who prop up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government.

The premier relies on the religious nationalist Jewish Home party, the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, all of which oppose families with same-sex parents.