Guardian attacks Israel’s record on LGBT rights

The Guardian published an article today obfuscating Israel’s progressive record on LGBT rights.  The piece (Gay Israelis hold mass wedding to campaign for same-sex unions, June 5), by their Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes, used a classic Guardian formula: highlighting only those facts which show Israel in a negative light, whilst ignoring countervailing evidence and omitting relevant regional context. 

After noting that twenty-three gay couples held an unofficial mass wedding in Tel Aviv “to highlight the country’s discrimination against same-sex unions”, he then sets out to take aim at Israel’s reputation as a gay-friendly country.

Israel champions itself as gay-friendly and will this month host its world-famous annual Gay Pride week. However, rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people are severely restricted by law and in society

Gay marriage is illegal in the country of 9 million people, although weddings performed abroad can be registered.

Homophobia and transphobia are widespread among religious and conservative groups, including those in government.

Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties, a powerful political faction in the Israeli parliament, have rejected legislation that affords equal rights, such as the inclusion of gay men in surrogacy laws. Civil marriage, even for heterosexual partners, is forbidden.

Israel “champions itself as gay-friendly” because, as we’ve demonstrated previously, that’s the truth.

Whilst it’s true that the LGBT community still can’t legally marry in the country, this is true of most Central and Eastern European countries as well.  Moreover, Israeli government policy on gay marriage is actually out of step with the electorate, with polls showing nearly 80% of Israelis supporting gay marriage or civil unions.

Here are the rights afforded to the LGBT community in Israel:

  •  Robust anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTs
  •  Recognition of same-sex marriages performed abroad
  •  Legalized LGBT adoption rights
  •  LGBT soldiers (including transsexuals) serve openly in all military branches, including special units; discrimination is prohibited
  •  Same-sex couples have the same inheritance rights as heterosexual, married couples

The broader point that Holmes misses is that LGBTs enjoy these rights nowhere else in the Middle East.

Many Middle Eastern countries makes homosexuality a crime punishable by death (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen) or jail time (Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Morocco, Algeria).  In other countries, LGBTs face risks of violence, torture and “honor killings” by militias or their own families (the West Bank, Iraq, Turkey) or harassment and crackdowns from the government and non-state actors (Bahrain, Jordan).

Focusing on the Palestinian territories, this Pew graph, on attitudes towards homosexuality is telling. (Note that orange is used to indicate ‘unacceptable’, green is ‘acceptable’, while grey indicates people who didn’t believe the topic was a moral issue.)

As the graph show, only 1% of Palestinian respondents believe that homosexuality is morally ‘acceptable’ behavior.  (The only other countries with the same results were Egypt, Pakistan, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.)

Such results are fully consistent with reports detailing the climate of fear Palestinian gays and lesbians endure due to widespread and often codified intolerance.  The Palestinian Authority has no civil right laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination or harassment, and the penal code in Gaza renders homosexual conduct a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

The real queer foes are those like Guardian Jerusalem correspondents who consistently ignore the horrors committed against LGBTs in the Palestinian territories – and throughout the Middle East – in order to satisfy their readers’ malign obsession with the world’s only Jewish state.

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26 replies »

  1. Out of curiosity, what are the same-sex marriage laws like in the UK? I know here in America it took a long time for gay marriage to be recognized on a Federal level, and we still have issues with rogue county clerks who refuse to their jobs. Not to mention, we’ve had numerous murders of lgbt folks, especially trans people.

    But, I get it. Oliver is covering Israel. Ergo, Oliver gets to shit Israel exclusively. That’s the shtick.

    • koufaxmitzvah, the position changes depending on where in the UK.
      Since 2014 this has been the position in England and Wales

      “The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill completed its historic journey through Parliament by receiving Royal Assent today, officially making it law. Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller also announced that the first same sex wedding could take place by as early as summer 2014.

      What the Act will do

      The Act, which applies to England and Wales, will:
      •allow same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies
      •allow same sex couples to marry in religious ceremonies, where the religious organisation has ‘opted in’ to conduct such ceremonies and the minister of religion agrees
      •protect those religious organisations and their representatives who don’t wish to conduct marriages of same sex couples from successful legal challenge
      •enable civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage, if they wish
      •enable married individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage”

      The Scottish Parliament has passed similar legislation for Scotland.

      But in Northern Ireland same-sex marriages are still illegal and not recognised.

        • koufaxmitzvah, it splits on sectarian lines.
          Republicans tend to support the Palestinians.
          Unionists, particularly the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) tend to be pro-Israel.
          Sadly it is the DUP that is opposed to same sex marriages and anti-abortion. When it comes to Women’s Rights the DUP are pretty close to Neanderthals.

          • I believe Ireland and Northern Ireland have the same sentiments toward the Palestinians. Funny how Brits now love them so much. The English word ‘Philistine’ portrayed someone as greedy and of very bad character. And to all who do not know, the word ‘Philistine’ means a Palestinian. 🙂

  2. Israel’s treatment of gays and lesbian is years ahead of many countries. At a time when it was still illegal in the UK to be gay Israel had gays in the army. It was not maybe as open but it was known. Although the formal acknowledgment of gays and legal rights are not as liberal (gay marriage is still not possible in Israel) the social and cultural treatment of such people was/is way better than in many other western countries.

    Although gay marriage is still not possible in Israel, the state recognizes said marriages when performed in other countries that allow it. Gays openly serve in the army and can legally adopt children.

    Brit or Irish media outlet rarely give Israel and credit for anything. That’s the reality and we have to just forge ahead and make Israel even greater.

  3. And…Tel Aviv has frequently been referred to by publishers as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world,[3] famous for its annual Pride Parade and gay beach,[4] earning it the nickname “the gay capital of the Middle East” by Out magazine (Wikipedia)

  4. “Oliver Holmes, used a classic Guardian formula: highlighting only those facts which show Israel in a negative light, whilst ignoring countervailing evidence”
    Just like Hitler.

  5. The leftist totem pole of sympathy is completely deranged. The LGBTQ community sides with those who seek to kill them and against those who seek to protect them.

    • AND the Neteuri Karta community sides with those who seek to kill them and against those who seek to protect them.

      • Yeah, go figure Although if an IQ tests were done on Neturai Karta members, a world record low would be the results. You cannot fight stupidity.

      • Unfathomable. What’s more, the State of Israel ensures them the right to study Torah. Have they heard of something called Chanuka?

  6. They continue to ignore the mere fact that Israel doesn’t do marriage at all. There is a complete hands off when it comes to marriage.

    Marriage is strictly within the authority of the various religions and the government has no say whatsoever. There are no civil marriages in Israel period.

  7. Funny! Just yesterday the prime Minister of Israel had appointed a gay individual as the minister of Justice!
    So, your argument holds no merit!

  8. What is surprising as Oliver believes in positive stories as well as negative stories being published.

    And yet there is one regular criticism of our work that I do agree with. It’s that, like any place in the world, relentless negative news does not paint a complete picture.

    To combat that, I’ve written about an Israeli company that makes nanosatellites and another that produces exoskeletons for people with disabilities. In Gaza, a tech hub has started training young people to code and make a living