Lindsay Hurwitz, a Fellow at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and a student at the University of Michigan, connects the fact that LGBT people in Israel get to celebrate their identity to Passover
A few weeks ago, in honor of the Jewish holiday of Passover, I found myself reminiscing on the oppression of the Jewish people in Egypt thousands of years ago. I then considered a more modern representation of the oppression: the LGBTQ community. Specifically, I wanted to examine the LBGTQ community in Israel – and I came up with the following question:
Why is this State different from all other states (in the Middle East)? In all other states, being LGBTQ is comparable to a crime; but in the Jewish State, it is not only accepted, but also celebrated.
In 1988, same-sex sexual activity became legal in Israel – making Israel the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex unions. Although no same-sex marriages are performed in Israel itself, it is currently the only country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. In the early 1990s, LGBTQ activists succeeded in outlawing discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation. Later, in 2008, the Knesset legalized the joint adoption of a child by same-sex parents. Further, all Israeli citizens – regardless of their sexual orientation – serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, and openly LGBTQ soldiers can hold classified positions in the IDF. Openly LGBTQ community members also hold parliamentary positions and have become famous artists and entertainers within the state.
In fact, Tel Aviv, Israel, has been deemed one of the top friendliest cities to the LGBTQ community worldwide. Tel Aviv recently hosted a huge Gay Pride Parade complete with music, speeches, and floats. Thousands of people from all over the world joined together at this parade to celebrate the freedom to be openly LGBTQ in Israel. This is not to ignore the fact that there are communities within Israel that oppose the LGBTQ community. Nonetheless, other countries look to Israel with admiration, as its general acceptance of LGBTQ should serve as a model to its neighbors.