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Does viral IDF Gay Pride photo show full picture?
By YAAKOV KATZ
06/12/2012
IDF post picture on Facebook of two male soldiers walking down Tel Aviv street holding hands, receives 8,000 "likes", 5,500 shares.
 
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 Aviv.

“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.”

Unlike the United States Military, which only recently repealed its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the IDF does not question candidates about their sexual orientation, and soldiers who identify themselves as gay are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 homophobia.

Last week, IGY met with IDF OC Education Corps Brig.-Gen. Eli Shermeister to discuss the treatment of homosexuals in the military.

The 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.”
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