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TENS of thousands of LGBT advocates and their supporters demonstrated in Tel Aviv's central Rabin Square last night, protesting against the exclusion of gay men from a recently passed surrogacy law.
The community is outraged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to pass legislation supporting surrogacy for gay fathers before voting against it, apparently under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.
Protesters had marched earlier in Tel Aviv and other cities, waving rainbow flags and briefly blocking a major road.
Hundreds protested near Mr Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, where rainbow-flag-clad protester Eyal Lurie Pardes chanted: "We will not remain silent!"
"Look me in the eyes and tell me I don't deserve to be a father,” he said, before being arrested and then released.
"Although Israel has a very liberal image concerning gays, it's not the case when you look at Israeli law," said former Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz of the left-wing Meretz party, who called for legislative amendments to ensure equal treatment for the LGBT community.
Many protesters took strike action to engage in the protests, while hundreds of employers said they would allow employees to observe the strike without penalty.
Israel has emerged as one of the world's most gay-friendly travel destinations in recent years, in sharp contrast to the rest of the Middle East where gays are persecuted and even killed.
Homosexuals serve openly in Israel's military and parliament and in the entertainment industry, but gay community leaders say Israel still has far to go in promoting equality.
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