When Jay Lazarus offered to donate his semen to a lesbian couple looking to start a family, it was because as a gay man he wanted to help them, “through the goodness of my heart.”
He could not expect that a year later, after Israel went to war against Hamas, the couple would reject his sperm because he is Jewish and they support Palestine.
Lazarus, 37, a hairdresser who lives in Perth, Western Australia, met the couple through a Facebook page in October 2022. In an Instagram post, he said he wanted to donate his semen because he understood the “complexities” gay couples face when trying to start a family.
"I connected deeply with a couple from Queensland, and we embarked on this journey together. I was committed to helping them achieve their dream,” he said.
By September last year, Lazarus’s sperm was ready to be donated after a series of “intense” medical tests and emotional counselling.
"I was a step closer to my wish of helping to create a family for a couple who would otherwise not be able to,” he said.
Then, two months after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 and massacred hundreds of civilians, the couple messaged Lazarus to tell him they no longer wanted his semen.
"The last little while has been a tough one. We are so deeply affected by the world events at the moment, particularly the war between Israel and Gaza,” they wrote.
“We cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through with your heritage and deep beliefs. We are so sorry for everything that is happening."
They were "sad for the Israelis" and "sad for the Palestinian people, so deeply sad," the couple added.
But, they continued: “We don't have the capacity to navigate parts of your identity in this donor relationship so we are respectfully ending this now. Ultimately with all the above, this is the only decision we can make.
“Please hear us when we say we are deeply grateful to you. This is in no way a reflection of how incredible you have been and how easy you have made this journey for us."
Responding to the message on his Instagram, Lazarus wrote: "I've been sitting on this for weeks, unsure if to share this story. But as time passes, I am compelled to share what I've learned. Prejudice is still pervasive, even in progressive circles that champion ‘kindness and love’.
"We are living in an era with disturbing historical echoes from the ideologies of racial purity that once fuelled the Holocaust — lineage free from Jewishness. Antisemitism is not just a relic of the past but a living, breathing prejudice that continues today.
“This couple has chosen a path, and while I can’t change their view, I refuse to let it diminish my pride or lose hope. I’m proud to be gay, proud to be Jewish, and proud to stand against hate.”
Lazarus later told Daily Mail Australia: “It's taken a lot of people by a big shock, which has been incredible because I honestly didn't think it was going to get this much traction or anything like that. It's been incredible.
“The Jewish community are so angry and everyone around me has been so supportive.
“To have non-Jewish people contacting me and messaging me privately, I mean, there's so many angry people. I've had nothing but good responses from it. It made me feel a lot better.”
He had not heard from the lesbian couple since they rejected his sperm, he added, but they had reached out in the past few days.
“I didn't open their message initially because I'm away on holiday for a friend's wedding and I didn't want to ruin things,” he said.
“But I have opened them now, and they've tried really hard to take it back almost, and said that it's got nothing to do with me being Jewish. It's got to do with them being pro-Palestine. I don’t know if that’s any better.
“They just kind of threw it all on me. I'm not going to respond. It's not good enough.”