Uzi Even

UziEven-Featured-1Uzi Even is an Israeli Professor Emeritus of physical chemistry at Tel Aviv University and a former politician, who is well known for being the first openly gay member of the Knesset.

Uzi Even was born in Haifa in 1940, during the Mandate era. He studied for a BSc and MSc in physics at the Technion, and a PhD at Tel Aviv University.
His specializations are spectroscopy of super cold molecules, molecular clusters and cluster impact chemistry, and the quantum properties of helium clusters. Even has written many articles, in Israel and around the world, about Israel’s policy on nuclear weapon and about the distribution of nuclear weapons throughout the world.

In 1993, Even took part in the first ever Knesset meeting on the subject of gays and lesbians, where he revealed that the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a Lieutenant Colonel, had sacked him and removed his security clearance after they discovered he was gay. His testimony led to Yitzhak Rabin’s government changing the law and regulations to allow homosexuals to serve in the army in any position, including one requiring high security clearance. In 1995 he successfully challenged his employer, Tel Aviv University, for spousal rights for his partner.

Even was the first ever Member of Knesset who came out as gay (before him, it was only Marsha Friedman who came out as a lesbian, but only after her work at the Knesset had ended). When Even was sworn in to the Knesset, in October 2002, right-wing religious party members left the building as a protest against the acceptance of a gay MK. As an MK Even worked to promote equality for women and served on the Environment Committee. After one tenure of four years, Even retired from political life.

In 2004, Uzi married his longtime partner Amit Kama in Canada, which was at the time the only country that allowed gay marriage. Two years later they registered as married in the Israeli Citizen Registry, after Israel’s Supreme Court ruling that two people can be registered as married in Israel if they were married by law in another country.

On March 10, 2009, the Family Court ruled that Even and his partner, Amit Kama, could legally adopt their 30-year-old foster son, Yossi Even-Kama, making them the first same-sex male couple in Israel whose right of adoption was legally acknowledged.

In 2013 Even set yet another legal precedent by divorcing his partner, Amit Kama, who he married in Canada in 2004. The divorce was granted by the Family Court since the Rabbinical Court does not recognize same-sex marriage. The implications are tremendous, as this might lead the way for straight couples to by-pass the religious establishment as well, which, in Israel, holds the monopoly on marriage and divorce affairs. The motivation has been personal as his new Romanian-Dutch partner Ovidiu Pavel has been refused residence by the Ministry of Interior on the grounds of Even’s marital status.

RELATED STORIES

LGBT History Month: Uzi Even (Q Salt Lake / October 12, 2016)
The Persistent Progress of Israel’s LGBT Community (The Tower / April 10, 2015)