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Israel’s LGBTQ Activists to Run for Office, Make Changes from the Inside

Tuesday’s elections in the US were good for LGBT candidates and an historic one for transgender candidates. There were at least 71 openly LGBT candidates in 23 states. Of those, 55 percent won, 35 percent lost, and the results of 10 percent were not yet settled. The LGBT community in Israel wishes to follow its American brothers and sisters.

The Aguda board, January 2017

A new initiative of the Aguda, in cooperation with Israel Hofsheet, Shacharit and the Center for Local Government, seeks to encourage and train members of the LGBT community to take power positions in the local authorities system.

“The project is for activists who believe that it is time for us to take key positions and promote the agendas we believe in from the inside,” explains Chen Arieli, chairman of the Aguda. “Those who believe it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the work ourselves, and stop counting on others to do it for us. Those who believe that the LGBT community has the ability to have a significant and far-reaching impact on the local social scene in Israel as a whole. ”

How did the idea for the project come about?

“After the events of the past year, the statements of the judges in the Wieselberg-Tzur case, the position of the welfare ministry on adoption and more, the community realized that we must take our struggle one step further. We are tired of politicians standing on stages and making empty promises, and it’s time to take the wheel and to lead the change we want to see in Israel.”

According to Arieli, not just anyone can be accepted to the program. “There’s a selection process consisting of personal interviews and a requirement that the participants be fully present at all meetings and who meet the threshold conditions on behalf of the Interior Ministry to run for the local council in their place of residence.”

Those who join the program will receive appropriate training, including essential tools for working in the local system, training in building and strengthening a local community and working with the media. The participants will also have personal guidance for their geographical area.

The vision of the project’s operators is to create a national action group with representatives in local councils throughout the country who will create a roundtable that will effectively advance LGBT rights within the local sphere while building and strengthening a stable local community in the various regions.

Arieli is already dreaming ahead of the scenario that could become a reality if everything goes well. “January 2019 – a meeting of a local force,” Arieli says, “with the participation of all the representatives that were elected with the help of the community that had come to vote for them and the surrounding communities who believe in this change, sit at one table and draw up a community work plan that crosses cities and communities, while strengthening local communities, promoting budgets for the work of the organizations in different cities and solutions to problems that arise from the field. A power circle that works in broad cooperation in a wide spread, helps organizations deepen their work in every city, and enables every LGBT person throughout Israel to be given their needs in all stations of life and at any point on the map.”