Title: Next Year in Tel Aviv? Credit: Craig Young Features Thursday 20th May 2010 - 6:38pm1274337480 Article: 8822 Rights
One of the problems with Palestinian solidarity politics is the question of Israel's excellent LGBT rights record. Israel easily has the best record on LGBT rights and civil liberties in the Middle East. It adopted de facto decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1963, although it had inherited colonial era British antisodomy laws that were mostly never enforced (apart from a military disciplinary hearing in 1956). Full decriminalisation followed in 1988. In 1992, the Knesset passed full antidiscrimination laws and allowed Israeli lesbians and gay men to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces from 1993 onward. In 2005 and 2009, the Israeli Supreme Court allowed coparent adoption for a lesbian couple, followed by a gay male couple in the Tel Aviv Family Court. In 2006, Israeli LGBT groups participated in the Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorating the five thousand gay men estimated to have died in Nazi Germany's concentration camps as well as the Jews, Gypsies and other victims. Thus far, Israel has only been somewhat tardy when it comes to relationship equality, and the Knesset has failed to pass a comprehensive civil partnership statute of its own. That said, Israel's municipal authorities and courts have secured residency permits, property and other tax benefit equality, real estate, other financial, inheritance and Tel Aviv municipal service discount rights. In 2007, the first Jerusalem gay couple signed a registered partnership form. There are some problems from the ultra-Orthodox Haredi and Hasidim communities, but that said, overt antigay Orthodox Jewish Right pressure groups seem to be largely based in the United States, and have had little effect in Israel itself. However, there is increasing diversity within even Orthodox communities in the United States and Israel. Haredi Orthodox Jews hail originally from homophobic Lithuania, whose cultural traditions may affect their readings of religious texts like the Torah and Talmud. As for Hasidim, their mysticism includes female elements of divinity that are allegedly not encompassed in lesbian or gay sexuality. The controversy has recently been explored in Merav Doster's recent independent film, Eyes Wide Open (2009), which features a gay relationship between two Israeli Orthodox men. It will feature at this year's OutTakes film festival here. Given that Israel does have such an excellent record, and given that it is not uncommon for Palestinians to flee the West Bank and Gaza Strip from threats of homophobic violence and 'honor killing' from Fatah, Hamas and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, can western LGBT communities still march in step with uncritical calls for Palestinian solidarity? Should we? Recommended: Agudah Israel: Eyes Wide Open: http://www.eyeswideopenmovie. org Craig Young - 20th May 2010    
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