After 8,000 “Likes,” 5,500 shares and over 1,000 comments, a photo the IDF
posted of two male soldiers holding hands is stirring controversy and raising
the question of whether it tells the real story of how homosexuals are treated
in the military.
The picture shows two unidentified soldiers – one from
the Givati Infantry Brigade and the other from the Artillery Corps – walking
down a street in Tel Aviv holding hands. It was posted on the IDF’s official Facebook page on Monday, three days after the Gay Pride Parade in Tel
“It’s Pride Month. Did you know that the IDF treats all of its
soldiers equally? Let’s see how many shares you can get for this photo,” the IDF
wrote in the caption.
It was not the first time homosexual soldiers had
been photographed, and soldiers have been spotted participating in gay pride
parades while in uniform.
The sources said the post was the work of the
Spokesman’s Office Interactive News Desk and had the approval of senior officers
in the unit.
“This is definitely a huge success,” one officer said,
referring to the extent of coverage it has received internationally and the
number of Likes and Shares it has garnered on Facebook. “It tells a different
story of the IDF, which is important to share with the world.”
United States Military, which only recently repealed its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
policy, the IDF does not question candidates about their sexual orientation, and
soldiers who identify themselves as gay are drafted.
In January, however,
a study published by the Israel Gay Youth (IGY) Movement found that half of the
homosexual soldiers who serve in the IDF suffer from violence and
Last week, IGY met with IDF OC Education Corps Brig.-Gen. Eli
Shermeister to discuss the treatment of homosexuals in the military.
survey was conducted among soldiers who are known members of the LGBT community,
as well as youth who are undergoing the induction process. The survey found that
LGBT soldiers were often victims of verbal and physical violence and that for
the most part, commanders ignored the phenomenon.
“Our study shows that
there is still difficulty within the army with homosexuals and accepting them,
although I am happy to say that the intention among the top brass is to change
that,” IGY head Avner Dafni said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, the
comments vary. One questions why the IDF is promoting “demoralizing values,”
while another calls the picture “fantastic” and adds, “Kudos to the IDF.”