JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Education Minister Shai Piron apologized for saying that same-sex couples are not a family.
Piron was interviewed on Sunday by several Israeli media outlets.
In an interview aired on television stations, he said, “I am painfully convinced that my remarks were miserable. It’s not my place to decide who is a family and who isn’t.”
He added, “What bothers me more than anything is the children and adults who were hurt by what I said, and I am looking them in the eyes and saying I truly apologize.”
Piron, a member of the Yesh Atid party, also defended the remarks. He told Ynet that while he has voted to support every bill that provides more rights for the homosexual community, including the surrogacy law and tax credits for single-sex couples, “I am also an Orthodox rabbi, I will not force religious Jews to recognize same-sex couples as a family.”
On Thursday, in an interview published in the weekly free newspaper B’Sheva, which is geared to the Modern Orthodox population, “I think it is the right of a Jewish state, maybe even its obligation, to tell single-sex couples pursuing that lifestyle, that’s not family.”
Piron went on to say, however, that such couples deserve economic rights, a mortgage and parental rights.
The day after, he wrote on Facebook, “You can disagree with my comments but it reflects the reality of the situation in Israel and the difficulties of the religious community with changes in the family structure. Every day I try to build a bridge between different groups and communities, the first step of the bridge is to accept and understand. I apologize if my words were misunderstood and hurt anybody.”
Same-sex families and their supporters, including educators and school principals, are expected to protest Piron at the Knesset on Monday.