Learn From the LGBT Community

Former Knesset member Uzi Baram thinks society has a lot to learn from the LGBTQ community about the struggle to change. When people have a clearly defined objective and view achieving it as their life’s goal, they can topple strong walls and smash glass ceilings. Chronic complainers should take note

Back when I was a Knesset member I encountered various LGBT organizations. The more I met with their representatives, the clearer it became to me that the attitude toward their demand to have full equal rights – and not out of respect for “diversity” or out of “consideration” – is a kind of litmus test by which to judge the extent of a society’s liberalism.

In Israel today, with all its growing religiosity, racism and nationalism, the LGBT community bears impressive witness to the fact that when people unite and wage a devoted and determined struggle for equal rights, without blinking, without stuttering and without apologizing – they can overcome prejudice. True, not all gay men and women are active in the LGBT community, but the natural way in which they participate in society and raise their children has led to increased recognition of their rights and their power.

This is not an obvious thing, considering the starting point. The ultra-Orthodox – and even the national-religious public – know of no other sexuality than that involving a man and a woman. True, recognition of the existence of the LGBT phenomenon can now even be found in those communities, and there are religious gay men and women who do not hide their identity. However, this phenomenon, which is winning ever-increasing legitimacy in Israeli society, is condemned not only by rabbis and experts in Jewish law, but by the Torah. And although there are Jewish law experts who have tried to moderate the teachings of yehareg uval ya’avor – to be killed rather than violate a religious prohibition – they cannot obscure the power in what many religious people consider to be the unambiguous verses that appear in Leviticus.
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