A Wider Bridge is committed to advancing full LGBTQ equality in Israel. In meetings on the ground in Israel with our LGBTQ Leadership Missions, at community events across North America, and through our Beyond the Bridge network, we provide Israeli LGBTQ NGOs and leaders with public platforms to demonstrate their work and network with North American colleagues and communities working to address similar LGBTQ community challenges.
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LGBTQ Israelis enjoy widespread legal protections in 2019. Landmark legal victories include consensual same-sex acts (Knesset – 1988), workplace non-discrimination (Knesset – 1992), open service in the Israel Defense Forces since 1993, same-sex domestic partner benefits (Israeli Supreme Court – 1995), and recognition of same-sex marriages performed abroad (Israeli Supreme Court – 2006). (For more on achievements of the community, visit our page on the history of Israel’s LGBTQ community)
Yet more work needs to be done in the legal sphere. Same-sex Israeli couples still cannot get married in Israel. The use of surrogacy by same-sex couples in Israel remains illegal, and the process of adoption remains deeply difficult. Trans* Israelis continue to face widespread discrimination in state institutions.
Socially, LGBTQ Israelis have come a long way. There are now multiple out Members of Knesset (Israel’s parliament), CEOs of major corporations, news anchors, and high-ranking military service members. And Tel Aviv has become a world-class LGBTQ city – some estimate 15-20% of Tel Aviv’s residents self-identify as members of the LGBTQ community. Tel Aviv’s annual Pride Parade is a celebration attracting more than 250,000 people from across the country and around the world.
Yet beyond individual achievements and the openness of secular Tel Aviv, homophobia remains a challenge in the periphery of Israel and in the capital city of Jerusalem. LGBTQ youth continue to make inroads in their schools and communities around the country, yet they face many difficulties. The Orthodox rabbinate and religious communities continue to discriminate against LGBTQ religious Israelis, and block progress toward equality in the political sphere. LGBTQ minority groups – Ethiopian Israelis, Arab Israelis, Russian-speaking Israelis, Druze Israelis, among others – face the added challenges of being labeled “the other” in Israeli society, and often face cultural roadblocks to LGBTQ visibility and acceptance in their own communities. And each year that passes, new issues come to the forefront of the Israeli LGBTQ community, including bisexual visibility, LGBTQ senior advocacy and care, LGBTQ refugees, and more.