Israel: 100,000 protest, strike over surrogacy law excluding gay men

Thousands of Israelis were taking part in an unprecedented nationwide strike and major protests in cities across the country organized by the country's LGBTQ community on Sunday after Israeli lawmakers voted against extending a surrogacy bill to apply to same-sex couples.

Police estimated some 100,000 demonstrators packed into Rabin Square, the site of Tel Aviv's city hall, for the main rally scheduled for 8:30 p.m. local time.

Zionist Union Knesset member Itzik Shmuli, who is gay, addressed the crowd and spoke of basic civil rights being sold by Netanyahu for political interests.

"We will no longer be silent. This struggle is not only about the rights of the [LGBT] community but on the image of the country. This is the 21st century. People are not seated at the back of the bus because of the color of their skin and they will not be deprived of the right to be parents due to their [sexual] orientation. Netanyahu has sold the most important thing in our society to an extremist minority in his government for extraneous political interests -- the value of equality," he said to the tens of thousands of participants at Rabin Square.

Protesters called for "equality" and chanted, "Homophobia is terror, no excuse will help," in rhyming Hebrew. Read more via i24