The LGBT community is integral part of Israeli society

August 11, 2017 Agencies
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Israel’s President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin have visited the LGBT Center in Tel Aviv, marking eight years since the attack at the ‘Youth Bar’, in which the Nir Katz and Liz Troubishi were murdered.

Photo: Mark Neiman/GPO

The meeting was attended by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, his wife Yael, and Chairman of the municipal LGBT community center, Etai Pinkas Arad.

“The LGBT community is an integral part of Israeli society,” said the President, and added that members of the community faced many challenges, “God forbid we should ever give up – there are disagreements that relate to society as a whole, and for them we must fight for the way our society looks, each and every one of us, according to their beliefs.” He stressed, “Come, let us discuss, let us resolve disputes out of mutual respect for each other.”

The President added, “I am filled with hope, that the State of Israel, and all its institutions, will know how to act responsibly in its decision-making, and in a way that does not negate or degrade any population, even in the struggle over disputed issues. All of us in our society, are here together, working together, moving society forward as a whole together, and this is our duty.” The President concluded by congratulating the Mayor for his work for the community, and said, “A person’s preference is their preference, as they were born unto it. We are all human beings, and we all love as we love.”

Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Huldai said at the meeting: “The LGBT Center we established in Tel Aviv-Jaffa is the first urban center in the world, and the establishment of this center did not come easily. It is not enough to declare oneself a believer in equal rights or to say that you support LGBT rights – you have to put policy into action and not just talk. Unfortunately, we are far from saying that there is equality of consciousness and practice. Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the first Hebrew city, has a leading role at the social level, serving as a moral beacon for others in Israel and overseas. When we inaugurated the LGBT Center, my hope was that we would reach a day when it would no longer be necessary. I long for the day when this will be the situation in the State of Israel.”

“In the last few weeks, we have witnessed a number of challenging moments in the struggle for equal rights for the LGBT community in Israel,” said Etai Pinkas Arad, a member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality and Chairman of the LGBT Center. “We are grateful to the President for choosing to honor the community, and for proving that where hatred, prejudice, and violence raise their heads, there is a national leadership that stands up to them and promotes respect, acceptance, and equality in Israeli society. This is a message that must be shared by all citizens of Israel.”

LGBT Task Force co-chairwoman Chen Arieli said, “We have a large and strong community that for 40 years has been forced to take care of itself, to establish a wide network of organizations, to provide solutions, to fight for our rights in the courts, a community that includes victims of violence, prostitution, abandonment, discrimination, and suicide. We value this historic and important visit, but at the same time we are tired of the promises that come to nothing, and expect our country to make clear and practical decisions. Truly equal rights – in practice not just on paper.”

She added, “We see in you, the President of the State of Israel, a partner in these values. A partner in our quest for social equality and justice, and we ask you emotionally today: no more petting and embracing statements without any formal recognition, legislation, or policy change. We are not second-class citizens and citizens. It is time for a fundamental change, in which every man and woman in the country will live in security, equality and peace.”

Representative of the religious LGBT community, Avigail Sperber, said, “In recent years, we have seen great progress in the struggles of the LGBT community in all sectors, and very slowly in the religious sector. There is a great change in all areas; the legal system, religious law, in the world of culture, and in the education system, yet there is still a lot of work to do. Last week we marked the 9th of Av, the day of the destruction of Jerusalem, which – according to tradition – was destroyed because of needless hatred. I see our role, the religious gay community, as a bridge and to heal the rifts and hatred with the people.”

Representative of the LGBT Arab community, Zizu Abu Elwah, from eastern Jerusalem, spoke about how he came out, and how his parents supported him but asked him to keep it a secret out of fear of the reaction. He said, “”It’s the fear, what people will talk about, what people will say, and that’s the problem with us in society, it is a subject that is not part of the culture, and when we do talk about it, we talk about it using derogatory names that are usually used by children in the playground. The problem begins with education. It makes me very happy that you came here today.”


One Response to “The LGBT community is integral part of Israeli society”
  1. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Oops Avigail Sperder, as a “religious sector you do understand that God said it is an abomination in His eyes. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you or that other should hate you for the choice you made. But it is un-natural. The LGBT should also respect those who abide by God’s word and not force them to marry you or consider this a marriage as it is ordained by God for a man to leave his family to take on a wife. Perhaps the LGBT could come up with an alternative word of Marriage to say perhaps We join these two in a R\”Rainbow Connection”. As far as I’m aware Gays have the same legal rights as married couples and defacto couples.

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