A black day for Israel's gay community

The most inflammatory statements against my community have come from the Knesset podium.

By ILAN SHEINFELD
August 2, 2009 20:46
2 minute read.
A black day for Israel's gay community

police gay shooting 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

On Saturday night a black ribbon was tied to the pride flags that flew across the country. Because on Saturday night two young people, Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Tarbishi, 17, were murdered in cold blood and another 11 were wounded, four of them critically, for being who they were. This is a dark day, not just for the homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community but for the whole of Israeli society. The murderer's burst of bullets set us back years to when homosexuality was considered a crime and an aberration as defined by law. I marched on Saturday night, together with hundreds of men and women from my community, expressing our grief and our rage on the streets of Tel Aviv, the city we always regarded as the only safe place for us; the place where we might live our mono-sexual lives peacefully, the city that on Saturday night became an abattoir. The cry heard Saturday must not end there. The homosexual, bisexual and transgender community must today take to the streets in every Israeli city, to demonstrate, to be seen, to proclaim its existence and its rights. SATURDAY NIGHT'S spontaneous demonstration must become an organized protest before the Knesset. Over the last few years, the most inflammatory statements imaginable against my community have come from the Knesset podium. Those same ministers and MKs who denigrated the community must account for the young people's blood spilled on Saturday night. These events proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the homosexual-lesbian community must not remain silent in the face of homophobia, discrimination, interference in personal and family life or any attempt whatsoever to tie our hands, dictate our way of life or otherwise threaten our identity. The men and women of my community serve in the IDF, pay taxes and fulfill every obligation of an Israeli citizen. To date, we have secured our rights through several laws, but mainly through enlightened decrees in the courts. The State of Israel must no longer discriminate against the homosexual-lesbian community in matters of family, surrogacy contracts, inheritance conflicts or any other area of public or private life. THIS IS the time to strengthen the families of those killed and wounded. We must tell them that their sons and daughters are heroes of Israel; an Israel that strives for justice and peace, for equal rights for all its citizens, regardless of race, gender or religion, an Israel free of incitement and hate. I would like to tell the families of the bereaved not to be ashamed of their children; they are good and pure. The location of their murder was a quiet meeting center where young people from good homes gathered to seek out a community, a protective and understanding community where they could express themselves freely and love whomever they chose. This despicable crime has caused indescribable suffering. Each and every one of us, men and women of the gay and lesbian community, feels the pain. The person who did this has made each and every one of us a walking target on the streets of Tel Aviv. We must act and fight together to prevent such things from happening in Israeli society. Today, spurred by the murder of our young people, my community demands a unanimous condemnation of this shocking massacre from our elected representatives, judges and legislators, and we insist on full equality and protection from incitement and murder. The writer is a gay activist and has published several books of poetry, novels and children's books. His best-seller A Tale of a Ring was published in 2007 by Keter Books.


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