Does Israel Need a Gay Lobby?

After Elections, LGBT Israelis Need To Get Political

Party Over: Is it time for Israel’s gay community to advocate for its rights?
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Party Over: Is it time for Israel’s gay community to advocate for its rights?

By Ilan Manor

Published February 01, 2013, issue of February 08, 2013.
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The recent Israeli elections ended with a predictable scene: a victory speech delivered by Benjamin Netanyahu to hundreds of Likud party supporters.

But if this moment of triumph appeared to be a foregone conclusion, there was much that was new — and alarming — about this recent election campaign.

It saw the birth of a new kind of rhetoric in Israeli politics, one that was aimed against a minority group previously ignored by most Israeli politicians: the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In the months leading up to the elections, several politicians from various right-wing parties expressed their opinions regarding the inclusion or exclusion of LGBT people from Israeli society and from its most treasured institution, the Israel Defense Forces.

One of the most vocal opponents of the Israeli LGBT community is Moshe Feiglin, a settler and a newly elected Knesset member from the ruling Likud party. In the past, Feiglin has identified with the inhabitants of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem who, according to him, have nowhere to hide when “the disgusting Gay Pride Parade marches outside their homes.” Feiglin has even gone as far as to present himself as a proud homophobe.

Of course, anti-gay sentiments are not limited to Feiglin or to the Likud party. Yair Shamir, another newly elected Knesset member from the Yisrael Beiteinu party, has said that there is no place for same-sex marriage in Israel. Uri Arieli, a veteran member from the Religious Zionist Jewish Home party, believes that homosexuals who flaunt their sexuality should not be allowed to enlist in the IDF. And members of the Shas party, a senior member in the former Netanyahu coalition, routinely refer to homosexuals as deviants and sick people.


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