Last week, a prominent national religious Israeli rabbi declared that the country has become an “LGBT-stan” inundated with gay culture and urged his followers to “wage war” for traditional family values. In response, Ramat Gan activists will be singing in the streets.
Speaking at a right-wing religious conference, Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, who heads the Ramat Gan Yeshiva, said that so-called homosexual culture was an illness that is taking over. “We’re becoming a country that looks more and more like LGBT-stan.”
Local Israeli activists are planning a protest on March 15th to let the municipality know that homophobia won’t be tolerated in Ramat Gan.
Protest organizer Aviad Fenyo, the head of Ramat Gan Pride, remarked that the demonstration will include music and song.
“I don’t believe in the ‘f*ck you’ approach. Nothing good comes out of it. We are going to sing songs to unite the Israeli community. We are all equal. We are all people,” Aviad said.
Aviad has a history of using songs as activism. Frustrated with the lack of LGBTQ events in Ramat Gan, a city next to Tel Aviv, he took it upon himself to organize queer sing-a-long evenings. At these events, Aviad strums guitar and leads audiences in songs by pop icons such as Britney Spears, Madonna and Beyonce.
LGBTQ Sing-a-long. English starts at 40 seconds in!
“Someone told me that it was my Britney Spears sing-a-long that made the Rabbi go crazy,” Aviad chuckled.
Although Aviad dislikes Rabbi Shapira’s homophobia, he feels a degree of empathy.
“It’s 2018. Most of his students have already met LGBTQ people. They’ve discovered we have no horns or tails, and actually some of us are nice. And if freaks them out! The Rabbis are losing the control they have over their own students. That must be a scary feeling.”
Aviad Fenyo (photo credit: Yehoram Bitton)
Aviad hopes that he will see growing support for Ramat Gan’s LBGTQ communities. He also says that a dream is for Rabbi Shapira to finally step down.