First openly-gay Likud MK responds to haredi snub

Likud's newest MK, Amir Ohana, says he'd be delighted if haredi MKs continued to absent themselves from his Knesset speeches.

Ari Soffer ,

MK Amir Ohana
MK Amir Ohana
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Likud's newest MK Amir Ohana - the party's first openly gay man to serve in the Knesset - has fired back after haredi MKs absented themselves from his swearing-in ceremony.

During Monday's ceremony, MKs from Likud's coalition partners United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Shas were notably absent, in an apparent slight towards Ohana. 

Ohana, who heads the Likud's LGBT caucus, replaces former Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, who stepped down last week amid a storm of sexual harassment allegations.

But the freshman MK said he didn't even notice the haredi MKs' absence at the time, and didn't take it personally. In fact, he said, he hoped they would continue to boycott his speeches.

"At the time of the speech I didn't even notice the absence, and afterwards when I heard (about it) I just hoped that in all subjects about LGBT rights they will continue to be absent," he said in an Army Radio interview, in a veiled swipe at the haredi parties. "Let them be absent - that would be wonderful."

For their part, the haredi parties have insisted their MKs' absence was nothing personal.

"The opposition was nothing personal," a senior UTJ source told Channel 2. "But he is a Member of Knesset from the coalition and we are very concerned that he will work to advance initiatives regarding the homosexual community, and in United Torah Judaism we oppose (such initiatives)."

The Shas party claimed its MKs were only absent due to a scheduling misunderstanding, with party sources insisting it was not a calculated political move at all.

There have been other homosexual MKs, though most belonged to Meretz. Ohana is the first from a right-wing party.

Watch: Haredi MKs disappear during Amir Ohana's first Knesset address