A rainbow coloured placard in the colors of the LGBT flag [Illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LGBT activists plan to demonstrate Thursday against a recent government statement describing LGBT relationships as “unusual” and deeming LGBT people unsuitable to adopt children. We are against the state’s discriminatory position. They should be allowed to adopt as is any other couple.
The LGBT community was rightly incensed at this challenge to the equality of rights in our modern society. “After we were exposed to another narrow-minded and low government act,” the Israeli LGBT association declared in a public statement, “we choose not to remain silent.”
This is timely, for the accusatory statement was contained in a report submitted in preparation for a High Court hearing of a petition submitted by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement.
The petition aims to secure the rights of same-sex couples to adopt children in an entirely equal way as the customary practice, where both parents are full guardians of the child.
Present illogical regulations recognize only one person as the legal guardian of the child, and not the gay couple.
This petition for equal rights comes against the background of mounting attacks on Jewish LGBT activists abroad for the crime of Zionism. The clear and undeniable nexus of anti-Zionism and antisemitism means that Israel’s treatment of its own gay community is another target that must be defended by the state.
Israel cannot ignore the insulting fact that three Jewish participants in Chicago’s recent Dyke March who were carrying rainbow flags emblazoned with the Star of David were expelled from the event, because they were supporters of Israel.
LGBT activism teaches all of us, gay or not, the importance of inclusiveness. An egregious example of this is occurring in Britain, where a Jewish school risks closure for refusing to teach LGBT issues.
According to an Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) report, the school contravenes the Equality Act 2010, which makes it mandatory for British schools to educate on a range of “protracted characteristics,” including age, disability, race, sex and sexual orientation. This means that “pupils have a limited understanding of the different lifestyles and partnerships that individuals may choose in present-day society.”
LGBT Jews abroad say it’s increasingly difficult to be pro-Israel. According to Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, an LGBT Jewish organization, the tensions over Israel in the broader LGBT community also exist within the LGBT Jewish community. Conversations over Israel have become increasingly touchy, because people have overlapping identities.
“There’s an extra layer of identification as a group that experiences injustice, so that adds a layer of intensity,” the Keshet leader said. “It makes it a struggle to enable people to be in one space together. I haven’t figured it out and nor has anyone else.”
Except, perhaps, in Israel, where more than 200,000 people packed Tel Aviv’s streets for this year’s annual LGBT Pride Parade, making it the largest-ever pride parade in the Middle East and Asia, according to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality.
The Tel Aviv event included an impromptu protest by gay activists. “We are not protesting the gay pride parade, we are participating in the parade as protesters,” said Noa Bassel, an organizer with Pinkwashing Israel. “What we are protesting against is the PR that Israel carries out using the gay community, and we claim abuse and that [Israel is] not giving us our rights and is portraying itself as liberal and democratic when it essentially is not.”
Discrimination will continue as long as there are homophobic politicians. A case in point is Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev, who tweeted that “a Jewish family is a father and mother who naturally bring life into the world.”
This understandably sparked the outrage of LGBT rights activists and accusations of homophobia from Zionist Union MK Omer Bar-Lev.
One politician who should champion this year’s upcoming Jerusalem Pride Parade as a teaching moment is Mayor Nir Barkat, who should reconsider his announced decision not to participate. Israel’s capital should be led from above by its mayor, not from below by a minority of the city council. He should lead the march on the second yahrzeit of the murder of 16-year-old Shira Banki by a religious fanatic at the 2015 parade.