Thousands of LGBT Israelis flood Rabin Square

Massive evening rally marks end of general strike on Sunday by Israel's LGBT community.

Tzvi Lev ,

LGBT rally in Rabin Swaure
LGBT rally in Rabin Swaure
Kobi Richter/ TPS

Thousands of Israelis flooded Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Sunday evening to mark the end of a general strike in protest what it said was anti-LGBT legislation.

The Surrogacy Bill, which passed on Wednesday, had raised hackles among the LGBT community over its limited expansion of rights to surrogacy, granting it as a right - including public funding - to single women, but excluding same-sex couples. In wake of the legislation, Israel's leading LGBT advocacy groups announced a nationwide strike on Sunday in order to protest what they contended was the bill's discriminatory policies.

Demonstrators waved signs blasting Prime Minister Netanyahu and the right-wing government, including signs produced by the left-wing Yesh Atid, Zionist Union, and Meretz factions.

"We will not be silent anymore. This struggle is not only about the rights of the community but about the image of the state," said Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli. "This is the 21st century, people do not sit in the back of the bus because of the color of their skin, and will not be denied the right to be a parent because of their sexual tendency."

"Netanyahu sold to the extreme minority in his government the most important thing for us as a society for a foreign political interest - the value of equality and the thousands here are demanding that he stop it, instead of betraying liberal values and serving the causes of darkness," Shmuli added.

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) added that "to protest is absolutely justified. This evening, and throughout the day, I saw youth movements, both straight and LGBT...what has been happening here in recent days only proves that equality of rights for the LGBT community is a necessity. "