Gil Hovav in ‘Liberty, Equality, Sexuality’

Israel’s leading culinary journalist Gil Hovav joined two European personalities in Mumbai to talk about LGBT equality

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When Gil Hovav’s five-year-old daughter and her friends in Tel Aviv speculated the sexual orientation of this man they were looking at followed by an inference that he could be “a gay man who dates women”, he wasn’t surprised. For the past 28 years, Israel’s leading culinary journalist has been living with his partner Dan, who he met during their military service, and together they have been raising Naomi, their daughter, now 12. That is how normal it is for men and women to live together and raise children with their same-sex partners in Israel, one of the most gay-friendly nations in the world.

But everything isn’t completely pink yet, despite the emancipation and progress that the country has made over the past 25 years. “Israel is strange. It has a right-wing government but is pro-gay and liberal. The problem they face is from religion, which is why same-sex marriages are recognized but not performed there still,” said Hovav as he joined Katharina Poggendorf-Kakar, a German writer and visual artist who lives and works in Goa, and French author Charles Dantzig for the early morning session on Day Two of the Times Litfest titled ‘Liberty, Equality, Sexuality’.

But while Israel still has several hurdles to overcome, its tolerance for the LGBT community is far improved compared with the stress and conflict in other western countries.

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