Summer after summer, Tel Aviv’s beaches and nightlife are a mecca to the worldwide LGBT community. It’s no surprise, considering Tel Aviv is one of the most gay friendly cities in the world—and of course, it doesn’t hurt that there’s a whole lotta sun. LGBT rights in Israel are the most advanced in the Middle East and one of the most advanced in Asia.
And yet, last week, the Israeli Government told the Supreme Court that it “remains opposed to allowing same-sex couples to adopt in the country, the state said in response to a Supreme Court petition” by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, also known as “Gay Dads,” to end a built-in discrimination in adoption legislation. After much debate, the government decided not to ensure equality under the adoption law, although it did open the law to allow unmarried common-law partners to adopt—as long as they are a male-female couple. The court has given them two months to reconsider.
On Thursday, July 20th, the LGBTQ community took to the streets with some 10,000 people attending a protest in central Tel Aviv, across from the government complex. Among them was Israeli pop star Harel Skaat, who is currently trying to adopt a child with his partner. While there, he called upon the young LGBTQ community to refuse to serve in the army—and even stop paying taxes—all in protest of the government’s stance.
Personally, I think it’s wonderful that the IDF is supportive of LGBTQ soldiers. We serve at an age when many people choose to express their sexuality and gender openly. After my service, I lived in Hawaii and was astounded by the amount of people who were serving in the US Army and Coast Guard and had to keep their private lives private under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (this was before it was repealed in September 2011). I think Harel Skaat’s cry to boycott the army and stop paying taxes is unrealistic— but I do think that LGBTQ couples deserve to wed and adopt in Israel and I hope to see that happen in the near future.
Also among the protest was former lead singer of the Israeli boy band HFive and successful solo artist, Amir Fay Guttman. The singer, who was also a gay rights activist, passed away three days after the protest. He nearly drowned Saturday, saving his niece. He passed away at Rambam Medical Center. He left behind a husband and a son, whom the couple made with a surrogate woman in India.
When tragedies like Guttman’s death happen, it makes it even more obvious how the government’s stance is considered a slap in the face, especially in light of the fact that this summer, gay and bisexual men were permitted to legally donate blood following a year deferral period.
Since 1992, the Israel Defense Force has permitted openly gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers to serve without hindrance in all branches. While same-sex marriage is not possible in Israel yet, the country does recognize married same-sex couples from elsewhere. Because of these double standards and inequalities, same-sex couples are being forced to continue to go abroad in order to adopt.
Less than a month ago, I was appalled by the news of a young, straight couple being arrested for brutally beating their 9-month-old son. How could someone do such a thing to their own child?
Being straight isn’t a guarantee that one will be a good parent. Love, kindness, compassion, and patience are just some of the many qualities that make a good parent—not being gay or straight. I wish more people understood this, particularly those making legislation.
As a new mother, I look back and remember how difficult it was to get pregnant. Waiting month after eternally long month made me want our child so much more. I have gay friends in loving relationships. Some of them dream of having kids and I know they would make amazing parents.
I can only imagine how hard it is for loving same-sex couples to wait for that life-altering call saying there’s a child up for adoption. They, too, deserve the right to adopt here in Israel—and I am ashamed of the country for being so homophobic, especially when family is such an important value.