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Rights vs. acceptance

By | 2010-04-22T09:00:00-04:00 April 22nd, 2010|News|

Unbeknownst to many Americans, some areas in the Middle East actually enjoy more LGBT rights than we do in the U.S. Israel is one of those countries.
However, although rights are more common, acceptance is not.
In Israel – and especially in the Palestinian territories – social attitudes toward gays and lesbians are tolerant at best, hateful at worst. Heavy influence from strictly religious members of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith keeps personal acceptance of the gay community to a minimum, and has resulted in backlash and even violence against LGBTs.
At Jerusalem Pride in 2005, several marchers were stabbed as they walked the streets of the city. In 2009, an armed attacker killed two people and injured 15 more at an LGBT youth center in Tel Aviv. And though Jerusalem did elect an openly gay city council member, Sa’ar Netanel, he received several death threats during his tenure.
And yet the laws tell a different story. Same-sex activity between consenting adults in private has been legal since 1988. Unregistered cohabitation between same-sex couples has occurred since 1994, and in 2006, the country began recognizing same-sex marriage performed in other countries. In Israel’s military, gays and lesbians serve openly, and discrimination against them is prohibited. And in 2005, the Israel Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian couple could legally adopt each other’s children.
The conflicting sentiments have not stopped Israel’s LGBT community from being active since the 1970s, with gay pride festivals held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and several other smaller cities.
Tel Aviv was named by Out Magazine as “the gay capital of the Middle East.”
In Palestinian territories, however, the situation is quite different for LGBT people. Male homosexuality is illegal in Gaza, and no civil rights exist to protect people from discrimination, harassment or violence. Not surprisingly, same-sex unions of any kind are also forbidden.
Some LGBT Palestinians have fled to Israel or other countries, seeking asylum in more accepting areas.
To learn more about LGBT issues in Tel Aviv and all of Israel, visit

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.