Havruta and Bat Kol awarded French Human Rights Prize

Havruta and Bat Kol, organizations serving the Israeli LGBT Orthodox community, are the first Israeli organizations to be awarded this prize.

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, The Human Rights Prize of the French Government for 2011, awarded medals to Havruta and Bat-Kol – Israeli organizations working for LGBT rights in religious society.  The medals were  given in December 2011 to Havruta – Religious Gays and Ba-Kol, Religious Lesbians, which together presented the Shoval Project, along with The Pride Minyan and the religious groups in Israel Gay Youth (IGY).

157 organizations from 47 countries competed and the medal was awarded to 11 organizations across the globe. Havruta and Bat Kol  are the first Israeli organizations to ever win.

This historical recognition keeps reminding us that our work is significant, and not to be taken for granted. In recent years, we were able to put the subject of alternative sexual orientation and gender identity into the heart of the religious public’s discourse in Israel. We have helped change attitudes toward LGBTs living in religious society, and how the religious society relates to them. More and more religious leaders, intellectuals, educators and communities are aware today of our presence – religious and gay, and realize there’s plenty of room to improve our place in the community. Religious leaders today talk openly and freely about LGBT and same-sex issues, many educators and consultants are turning to us for advice, educational material and references, and the number of those who believe that we can change or repaired is dwindling.

These processes were possible in the past decade only by the existence of religious LGBT organizations: prominent among these are the Bat-Kol, Havruta and the organizations mentioned above. Together we hold public conferences, meetings with members of the Knesset, religious and spiritual leaders and educators, promote information through the media, participate in gay pride events and create strong communities. Through the Shoval Project, we address students, teachers, counselors and religious leaders, sharing personal stories and help to foster tolerance, understanding and acceptance.

Daniel Jonas, Chairman of Havruta: “I sincerely thank all the people involved – members in Havruta, Bat-Kol, The Pride Minyan, Shoval and the Religious IGY groups. Together we create reality, make history and provide a hopeful future to our friends and our religious gay community. This significant recognition, is emotional and historical that acknowledges all of our efforts.”