The Israeli government doesn’t believe LGBTQ Israelis should be able to adopt children, yet continues to tell the world what a wonderful place Israel for the queer community.
By Yael Marom
The past few days have been a stark reminder of just how the Israeli government views the LGBTQ community. The Welfare Ministry’s statement calling LGBTQ families “irregulars,” who should not be allowed to adopt children, is just the latest in a number of legislative moves and court decisions that go directly against LGBTQ rights. As the annual Jerusalem pride march approaches, the queer community in Israel can clearly see the hypocrisy of the Only Democracy in action.
With the masks finally off, the community now has a golden opportunity to rear its head and understand that the state needs it far more than that the community needs the state’s approval in order to be “normal” or get married. Who asked them, anyway?
On Monday, Tel Aviv University law professor Aeyal Gross published an excellent article in Haaretz, after he went to the Foreign Ministry’s website to see how Israel presents its LGBTQ community to the world. From the website:
Israel is one of the most inclusive societies in the world for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. As early as the 1960s, same-sex couples lived in Israel freely and without fear of persecution. The Gay Revolution of the 1980s brought Israel’s LGBT community full recognition of their human rights, as well as legal and social equality to individuals and families.
Even more incredible is the fact that Gross found that the website mentions equal adoption rights no less than four times. Someone here is lying.
The time has come to understand that between the Nation-State Law, attacks on the “left-wing media,” and Netanyahu’s corruption scandals, the LGBTQ community is one of the last remaining fig leafs propping up the deceitful image of Israel as a Western, liberal country. The community has a great deal of power, and it’s time to stop playing nice.
No one is going to give LGBTQ Israelis their rights — they need to take them. The community cannot sit and wait for Amir Ohana, Israel’s only gay lawmaker, to make good on his promises through back room deals, while the community shuts its mouth and looks pretty.
Before the last elections, a small group of LGBTQ activists, along with housing rights activists, burst into several events held by the right-wing Jewish Home party, protesting the homophobia of a party that today controls the Justice Ministry. There were some in the LGBTQ community that accused the protestors of acting violently, arguing that the community should not be “political.”
After the murder of Shira Banki during the 2015 Jerusalem pride march, queer activists protested against a government representative who came to speak at a Tel Aviv vigil in her honor. The organizers, who invited a representative of a government that includes people such as self-identified homophobe MK Bezalel Smotrich, reprimanded the activists. Again and again, queer activists were told to leave politics out of it.
Over the past few years we have witnessed incidents in which people from within the LGBTQ community — as well as those who view themselves as allies — try to silence protests against the conservative, homophobic tendencies that have become well-entrenched in this government. These voices are the most powerful tailwind for those who live and profit off of conflict and separation. When a gay man goes after a lesbian for being too political, Smotrich and his ilk gleefully stand on the side and enjoy the spectacle. The fear mongering works.
But now that all the cards are on the table and everyone can see just precisely how the government views the LGBTQ community, perhaps the time has finally come to stop sucking up to those in power. To stop getting married in order to be accepted. To stop letting the state use us in its international pinkwashing campaigns to cover up its crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories, to stop cooperating with the attempt to turn us into “normal” citizens by enlisting us into the army.
First let’s see those in power give us something. Only then will we give something in return.
Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.