Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts

January 14, 2019

Israel Bans Doctors From Trying Gay Conversion Therapy But It All Depends on the Next Election





            



Reporting about anything to do with LGBT in Israel takes patience because everything to do with sex there is complicated. As most LGBT understands it Israel is a homophobic country that likes to hide the homophobia behind a rainbow flag so they can get the gay tourist dollars. Would you think a country or city is anti-gay when you see rainbow flags hanging from their roofs. Exacly! The money and their religious beliefs are separated. 

A ban on conversion therapy by Israeli doctors will help protect gay people from treatments that claim to make them straight, but more work needs to be done with religious groups that support controversial "cures," activists said on Wednesday.

Members who perform conversion therapy could now be expelled from the Israel Medical Association (IMA), which represents 90 percent of the country’s doctors, if a complaint is filed to its ethics committee, said IMA spokeswoman Ziva Miral. 

“The treatments to change one’s sexual orientation have been found to be ineffective and could cause mental damage, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies,” the IMA said in a position paper on the practice.

Conversion therapy, which can include hypnosis and electric shocks, is based on the belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be cured.
 
It is used in many countries, except Malta, Ecuador and just over a dozen U.S. states that have outlawed it, according to the ILGA, a network of LGBT+ rights groups. Several states are considering bans, including Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

Ruth Gophen, one of the authors of IMA’s paper, published on Monday, said it was impossible to estimate how many Israelis have undergone conversion therapy because it is usually done in secret, as most doctors view it as unethical.
  
Israel is one of a handful of Middle Eastern countries - along with Jordan and Bahrain - that allow same-sex relations, in a region where several states impose a death penalty.
But many religious communities in Israel, where three-quarters of its 9 million-strong population are Jewish, are deeply conservative.

Chen Arieli, chairwoman of the Israeli LGBT Association, described the IMA’s ban on conversion therapy as a “breakthrough” but said outlawing the practice could make it harder to eradicate in communities where it is prevalent.
 
“We need to have a holistic approach regarding conversion treatment,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Our goal is to strengthen the religious LGBT organizations, to help them outreach (to) those youth that may be at risk of having conversion treatment.”

Julien Bahloul, spokesman for the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, which campaigns for gay couples to become parents, said he hoped parliament would now pass a law making conversion therapy illegal.

“The fact that professional people, doctors, say today that this kind of therapy... is not acceptable and not in any way related to medicine is a huge victory for us,” he said.

However, Bahloul cautioned that it would depend on the results of elections scheduled for April 9.
It is often not possible to form a government in Israel without going into coalition with smaller parties, many of which are religious.


Reuters


December 14, 2018

In Israel The Court Rules for Gay Parens in Birth Certificate



                                                                          
Illustrative: The High Court of Justice in session. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)




Thousands protest in support of the right of LGBT couples to adopt children at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Thousands protest in support of the right of LGBT couples to adopt children at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
In a victory for same-sex parents, the High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that the Interior Ministry cannot refuse to write an adoptive parent’s name on a child’s birth certificate because of the parent’s sex.

The ruling came in an appeal by two gay men who jointly adopted a son. They attempted to procure a birth certificate from the Interior Ministry for the child, but ministry officials refused to write both the men’s names as the boy’s parents on the certificate, the Haaretz daily reported.


The couple, who filed their appeal together with The Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force, a major gay rights advocacy group, argued that the refusal to record both legal guardians in the certificate could hurt both parent and child in the future, as it would make simple administrative and legal actions that required proof of the parent-child relationship more difficult in the case of the unrecorded parent. 
 
The judges noted that the case did not only concern the parents’ right to be recognized as parents irrespective of their same-sex relationship, but also, and more importantly, the child’s right to recognition as their child.
 
“The principle of ‘the good of the child’ argues for the recording of his entire family unit,” Hendel wrote, “and doesn’t permit us to limit ourselves to only one of his parents in the birth certificate…. The contrast with the treatment of a child adopted by a heterosexual couple, who has the right to have both adopted parents written in a birth certificate, is a contrast that applies both to the child and to the parents.”

From a simple administrative perspective, too, Hendel wrote, “it is unreasonable for the couple to be [legally] recognized as parents but for the certificate not to give expression to that fact.”

The court ordered the Interior Ministry to produce a birth certificate with both fathers’ names.

The ruling puts to rest an ongoing dispute between Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, of the conservative Haredi political party Shas, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit over the question. Deri has defended his ministry’s refusal in recent months to register same-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates, leading Mandelblit to openly come out against the policy. Once two individuals legally adopt a child, Mandelblit has argued, there are no legal grounds for refusing to register both parents on a birth certificate on account of the parents’ sex or sexual orientation. The policy amounted to illegal discrimination, Mandelblit has told Deri. 

Wednesday’s ruling is expected to influence two additional cases before the court, Haaretz reported. In one, a lesbian couple is appealing to force the Interior Ministry to have both women listed as parents on a birth certificate, for a child born to one of the women. In the other, a transgender man who was born a woman is asking the court to force the ministry to change his designation in his child’s birth certificate from “mother” to “father.”

“We’re happy that the court reminded the Interior Ministry of something that should have been self-evident — that parents are parents, no matter their sex, sexual orientation or gender,” the couple’s attorneys, Hagai Kalai and Daniella Yaakobi, said in a statement Wednesday.

“The court clarified that this policy of nitpicking, which abridges the rights of LGBT parents for no reason, cannot stand. We can hope that the court’s clear statement will lead the Interior Ministry to reconsider its policy of refusing to register two parents of the same sex in their children’s birth certificate, and refusing to register transgender parents in their children’s birth certificates with their correct gender.” 
 
Hen Arieli, chair of Aguda, said the decision “pulls the rug out from under the state’s strange arguments whenever LGBT parenthood comes up. It’s time to end the illegitimate discrimination against us. We will continue to fight in the streets, in the courts and in the Knesset until we are no longer second-class citizens.”



October 10, 2018

Why is Israel Afraid of 22 Yr Old Florida Native Who's Been Detained at The Airport for Her Views



Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old Florida native, landed at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport last Tuesday, expecting to start her studies in human rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Instead, she has spent the past week detained.
Alqasem, whose father is of Palestinian heritage, was barred from entering the country and accused of supporting a boycott of Israel that was started by Palestinian leaders.
Her mother, Karen Alqasem, told WMNF that "when she went through the gate to try to enter the country they asked where her father — you know she has the Alqasem name — so they asked where does that name come from, where was her father born?"
She showed the security agents her student visa, her mother said, but they made a call and detained her. 
Alqasem was denied entry to Israel because of a 2017 lawbarring visitors who support or call for a boycott against the country or its settlements in the West Bank. The measure passed after the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-led campaign to exert pressure on Israel, gained traction internationally.
"Israel, like every democracy, has the right to prevent the entry of foreign nationals, especially those working to harm the country," Israeli Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said on Monday. "Therefore we work to prevent the entry of those who promote the anti-Semitic BDS campaign, which calls for Israel's destruction."
Erdan said the student was "president of a chapter of one of the most extreme and hate-filled BDS groups" in the U.S., which has chapters that "repeatedly engaged in anti-Semitic and violent activity with the goal of bullying and silencing students simply for their support of Israel." 
He also questioned why she "changed her story several times" since arriving in Israel and erased her social media accounts prior to traveling.
He also said she is free to return to the United States.
According to a profile page about Alqasem on a website that claims to document people and organizations "that promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on North American college campuses," she was the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Florida. 
Alqasem appealed the order, reportedly telling the Tel Aviv Court of Appeals that she no longer identified with the boycott movement. The court recommended that she remain in custody until a decision was reached. "The weeklong detention is the longest anyone has been held in a boycott-related case," The Associated Press reported.
As she awaits the court's decision, she told her mother that there was a bedbug infestation in her cell, according to the AP. Her cellphone was confiscated and she felt "completely cut off from the world."
On Tuesday, Erdan said that the government would reconsider her entry if she denounced the boycott movement.
Her attorney, Yotam Ben-Hillel, did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.
"We're talking about someone who simply wants to study in Israel, who is not boycotting anything," Ben-Hillel told the AP. "She's not even part of the student organization anymore."
Erdan said the leader of the boycott movement, Omar Barghouti, has an Israeli residency permit and studied at Tel Aviv University. Erdan argued that studying in Israel did not mean Alqasem could not be part of the boycott movement.
Dror Abend-David, a Jewish language and culture professor who taught Alqasem Hebrew at the University of Florida, offered support for her in an opinion letter to Haaretz: "It was impossible not to notice that she was an exceptional student — hard-working, curious and ambitious. ... She was curious about Israel and never expressed any negative sentiment or anger about Israel." 
A spokesperson at Hebrew University of Jerusalem told NPR that it would join Alqasem's appeal. Some 400 academics from the university and other Israeli schools have called for her to be allowed into the country, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Hebrew University Rector Barak Medina told The Washington Post that authorities prevented university representatives from visiting her at the airport on Sunday.
"This kind of legislation might actually enhance the tendency to boycott Israel, instead of mitigating it," Medina was reported to have said. "These are a collection of policies that are not only aimed at narrowing freedom of speech but also show the extent to which Israel is not acting like a liberal democracy should."
In recent months, a number of vocal critics of the Israeli government, including U.S. journalist Peter Beinart, have been interrogated about their political views by border agents. As NPR's Daniel Estrin reported, the practice has revived a debate about whether Israel is suppressing dissent. 

August 1, 2018

It seems you can't Fly the Rainbow in Jerusalem, Chief Rabbi Stern asked For them to Be Removed







Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern has sent a letter to Mayor Nir Barkat asking him to take down the rainbow-striped gay pride flags situated outside two synagogues where the city’s Pride Parade is slated to pass on Thursday.

In his letter on Tuesday to Barkat, the rabbi said that he was again “greatly saddened” that the event “with which the spirit of wise men is not comfortable” was taking place at all, and asked that the gay pride flags lining the streets on the parade’s route two of the city’s major synagogues be taken down. 

“Although it has already been made clear to us that it is impossible to prevent this march, one request we do have is that the flags not be flown on King George Street on the section by the Great Synagogue and the Yeshurun Synagogue which are considered to be symbols of the holiness of Jerusalem,” wrote Stern.

“Everyone is able to understand that flags which unfortunately symbolize the opposite should not be flown there,” added the city’s chief rabbi.

Sten has in the past made a similar request. 

More recently, the rabbi has expressed opposition to allowing child surrogacy for gay men against the background of the controversy surrounding the new law passed by the Knesset on the matter. 

Stern said last week that allowing surrogacy for gay couples would cause “children to be born and enter a very strange and unnatural life, a life without a mother and father,” and that these children’s lives would become “wretched.” 

His comments sparked a backlash, followed by a splenetic letter signed by 200 rabbis including the senior-most leaders of the conservative wing of the National Religious movement condemning surrogacy and adoption for gays on Thursday, describing homosexuals as “perverts.”

A spokesman for the Jerusalem Municipal Council did not respond to a request for comment as to whether the mayor would agree to Stern’s request. 

However, The Jerusalem Post understands that the flags will not be taken down. In 2005, then mayor Uri Lupoliansky and the Jerusalem municipal council refused to allow the gay pride parade to take place in the city and refused to fly the gay pride flags from municipal street lamps. 

The Jerusalem District Court ruled that the municipal council was obligated to allow both the parade and the placement of the flags, and ordered that the municipal council and Lupoliansky pay NIS 60,000 in legal costs.


July 30, 2018

At a Time Cuba, India are About To Offer Gay Marriage, 100K Tell Israel Not to Be Against Gay Rights

66-100k gay and gay demonstrators at Rabin Square (LGBT Association)
"A people who have experience persecution should never be the one who persecute" 

On July 22, an estimated 100,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to rally for gay rights. It was one of the largest political demonstrations in the country’s history; if the same share of America's population turned out, there would be 3 million protesters in the streets. It may be the Israeli left's best chance in a while to revitalize its electoral hopes.
The proximate cause of the demonstration was opposition to a new law that offers public financing for parental surrogacy to straight couples and single women, but not to male homosexual couples. The gay community used the occasion to stage an unsuspected display of power.
The event was put together by a small cadre of activists under the leadership of a gay rights umbrella group, the Aguda. But they didn’t do it alone. They had the support of virtually the entire Israeli hi-tech sector.   
The Israeli division of Apple gave their employees a paid day off to attend the demonstration, and closed its stores in a show of solidarity. “One of Israel’s greatest gifts is the creativity, diversity and talent of its entire people,” said a company statement. “Unfortunately, recent legislation passed by the Knesset undermines those values. Apple will always maintain its values of fairness, dignity and mutual respect, and we stand with all of our employees seeking equality under the law.”
IBM Israel explained its decision to support the rally in equally lofty terms. “No one should be denied one of the most basic human rights – the right to start a family – for being who they are. We support IBMers who wish to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in advocating for legislation that is inclusive of ALL."
Some of the tech giants went beyond giving workers a day off and a pat on the back. Microsoft Israel and Mellanox, an Israeli-American supplier of computer networking products, each offered $16,400 to employees to help finance expensive foreign surrogacy. 
This kind of support had a ripple effect. The broader Israeli business sector, which has traditionally been unwilling to frighten away customers with principled stands, found their backbone. El Al and IsrAir, Teva and Soda Stream, the major cell phone providers, retail chains and credit card companies all took a stand for the gay community.
The Aguda leaders insisted that theirs was a non-partisan movement. They merely encouraged supporters to work from within by joining the political party of their choice. This was disingenuous. Israel’s LGBT movement, like its American counterpart, has been strongly allied with the progressive parties that make up the parliamentary opposition.
The governing Likud Party does, in fact, have members who sympathize with LGBT causes. According to a poll published on Wednesday, 51 percent of Likud voters were in sympathy with the demonstration. But for now that sympathy has little practical meaning because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party is captive to its ultra-orthodox coalition partners on gay rights and other social issues.
The Aguda leaders set forth six basic demands, which tuned out to be fairly pedestrian, including more shelters for vulnerable LGBT people, stiffer penalties for anti-gay crimes and a publicly financed educational campaign for tolerance. Their demands highlighted the fact that gay rights are already well established in Israeli law and custom.
LGBT soldiers serve without controversy in every branch and rank of the military. Israel proudly brands itself as a gay friendly tourist country, and has made its annual Pride Week the closest thing to national mardi gras. The country has laws banning workplace discrimination and penalties for hate crimes. LGBT parents have adoption rights. And it is only a matter of time before gay males get equal surrogacy rights.  
The LGBT organizers are now in the anomalous position of commanding a vast army without a suitable mountain to capture. They are aware of this, which is why, a few hours after their press conference, Aguda added a seventh and much more revolutionary demand: secular marriage.
Breaking the Orthodox rabbinical monopoly over marriage (and divorce) is popular with both gay and straight Israelis. It is the kind of big issue that challenges the entire theocratic web of special rights enjoyed by the orthodox minority and which could decide elections.
This hasn’t escaped the notice of politicians on the left. Tzippi Livni, the newly crowned leader of the parliamentary opposition, left Sunday’s demonstration already understanding this. “I haven’t seen energy like this in years,” she told reporters. “This is just the beginning.”
Before switching sides, Livni cut her political teeth on the victorious Likud campaign of 1977. She saw firsthand how an ideologically inspired, energetic and organized cadre of rebellious activists can take control of a major party and put it in office.
Israel’s founding Labor Party has gone downhill ever since that first electoral loss. It lost its labor federation ground troops and prestigious kibbutz ideology to the temptations of market capitalism. The party’s core of enthusiastic peace activists found themselves without a Palestinian partner and, following the second intifada, settled into gloomy resignation. The party is led by lackluster figures who are resigned to losing before they
begin.  

Sunday's demonstration of strength could be a catalyst for change on the left. The LGBT’s energy, and its direct challenge to the rabbis, gives it a leadership position among Israel’s fragmented civil rights organizations. And its de facto coalition with the hi-tech sector is important. Silicon Wadi, Israel's version of Silicon Valley, while disclaiming any partisan agenda, lends prestige, financial support and unabashed secular egalitarianism to any cause it embraces. A left-leaning political party that captures both has a fighting chance of emerging from the doldrums of the past two decades.
It is axiomatic that mainstream Israeli voters put national security first. To win an election, the LGBT-Hi-tech coalition would have to be at once socially conscious and sufficiently hawkish. That's not an easy balancing act, but it's suddenly conceivable.

July 23, 2018

The Battle For Gay Rights In Israel is For Parenthood Not Marriage and The Community is At an Uproar


Protestors blocking a road during an LGBT protest in Be'er Sheba, July 22, 2018.
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

Thousands of Israelis walked out of their workplaces and took to the streets Sunday, to protest the government’s denial of gay men’s rights to have children through surrogacy.
The protest over the legislation highlights how in a country where marriage is governed by religious authorities, parenthood is seen as the key to equality.
The new legislation loosened surrogacy regulations in Israel, giving single women and women unable to become pregnant for medical reasons the right to apply for state support for surrogacy. However, an additional clause that would have granted the same rights to single fathers – and, by extension, gay couples – was nixed.
What sparked the protest?
Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stunned and infuriated the LGBT community with a dramatic flip-flop on a commitment that would legalize supporting surrogate births for single people in Israel. Netanyahu promised, but then withdrew, his support for a clause that would allow single men, as well as women, to access surrogacy.   
Until last week, eligibility for legal surrogacy services in Israel was only available to “a man and woman who are a couple.” The bill brought to the Knesset by the country’s Health Ministry proposed also giving the same right to single women who wished to have children.
All attempts to explicitly make single-sex couples eligible were rejected early on in the legislative process.
The LGBT community rallied behind a widely supported effort to also allow single men – whether heterosexual or homosexual – to be allowed to father children using a surrogate under the new law. Early last week, the prime minister pledged he would back such a change, even making a video declaring his support. 
But at the last minute he reversed his position in the face of opposition from ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) parties, who threatened to withhold their support for the Jewish nation-state bill – a top priority for Netanyahu – and threatened the stability of his governing coalition.
Netanyahu defended his decision, saying he did so in order not to derail the entire bill and deprive single women from accessing the right to surrogates. He promised that if a separate bill extending rights to men was proposed, he would support it.
Wait, didn’t Israel just have a massive Gay Pride Month? Is it LGBT-friendly or not?
Israel has made tremendous inroads when it comes to public acceptance of LGBT lifestyles in recent decades. Homosexuality is not only accepted in liberal left-wing circles, but a leading member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, MK Amir Ohana, is also openly gay. In fact, it was Ohana who proposed the clause on the Health Ministry’s bill that would allow for the inclusion of single men. 
Tel Aviv in particular has a thriving LGBT culture: it was recently named the world’s leading gay travel destination.
Openly gay and lesbian individuals can also be found in leading roles in the business community – hence the unusually high levels of corporate support for Sunday’s protest, particularly in the high-tech community.
For a time, Israel led the way among Western nations when it came to legally establishing equality for gay partners on financial rights, particularly the Tel Aviv Municipality. The Israeli army has also pioneered the creation of guidelines for both gay and transgender soldiers, due to the fact that the country’s universal draft brings these populations into the military at a far higher rate than armies that rely solely on volunteers.
But when it comes to matters of personal and family status, the LGBT community hits a glass ceiling: All matters of marriage, divorce and the status of children are either completely controlled or heavily influenced by the ultra-Orthodox parties, who push back against any legislation condoning homosexuality – which in their eyes contravenes Jewish law.
There’s no same-sex marriage in Israel. Why is this anger over surrogacy and not marriage rights?
The inability of gay couples to legally marry in Israel is indeed frustrating and infuriating for the growing number of same-sex couples, who must marry abroad for their status to be officially recognized in Israel or hold alternative ceremonies in Israel that don’t carry legal weight. The idea of legalizing same-sex marriage enjoys widespread public support
But in this struggle, the LGBT community understands that its problem is part of a much larger issue: There are many groups who are unable to legally marry in Israel due to the absence of any form of civil marriage.
Because of the stranglehold of the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate in Israel on marriage, there is no framework that allows two individuals of different religions to legally marry. Furthermore, Jewish citizens are often required to go through agonizing efforts to “prove” their Jewishness before the state will agree to marry them as Jews.
Within the Jewish population, there are other groups forbidden to marry, such as divorced women who wish to wed a Cohen (people with the surname Cohen are descendants of the priests on the Temple 2,000 years ago, according to Jewish tradition), or those who are considered mamzers (certain illegitimate children under Jewish religious law).
Repeated efforts to introduce legislation that would establish civil marriage have failed. So LGBT couples are not alone in their fight for marriage equality. And like the other groups who are discriminated against in marriage, their weddings abroad are legal: they have been recognized as such since 2006.
However, when it comes to having children – in both the case of adoption and now in surrogacy – the LGBT community is the sole target of what it views as a violation of a basic right.
What makes this protest uniquely Israeli?
Whether it is embedded in Jewish DNA or the scars of losses in the Holocaust, Israel is an unusually child-centric country, with a culture and social norms that emphasize and revolve heavily around family life. 
This is borne out in the country’s fertility rates. Israel is an outlier in the Western world when it comes to the number of children per family: Its rate of fertility has been rising, not falling.
Even when one excludes the two populations with the largest families – the ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities – the Jewish state stands out compared to the rest of the developed world when it comes to its enthusiasm for being fruitful and multiplying.
Since the establishment of the state 70 years ago, Israeli government policies have been explicitly pro-family. In recent years, this has been evident in the accessibility and affordability of IVF for couples and single women facing infertility issues. Fertility treatments take place in Israel at 13 times the level of the United States on a per-capita basis.
In Israeli society, bearing and raising children is viewed as a basic right. And LGBT culture has been singled out for how central a role child-rearing has played in it.
Part of the success in penetrating the Israeli cultural mainstream has been that, for the most part, gay men and lesbians have been deeply interested in settling down and establishing families. Over the past decade, Israel has seen a baby boom among both gay men and lesbians. But due to biology, only gay men have been forced to invest tens of thousands of dollars and face years of bureaucratic hurdles in the efforts to realize their dream of becoming fathers.

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