Thursday, June 25, 2009

Homosexual Rights in Israel

The annual Gay Parade will march this afternoon in Jerusalem. No counter demonstrations are expected, probably because the Haredi community is collecting its powder for the large demonstration they're planning for Saturday afternoon against a municipal parking lot that will be opened near their neighborhood; this is turning into the first major test of the political mettle of our new mayor, Nir Barkat. The Gay Parade is a distraction so will be ignored.

Personally, I don't know what the Gay Parade is for. It originated in New York, a town that loves parades about everything, in the 1970s when gays were campaigning for acceptance. Jerusalem doesn't generally have political parades, and anyway, what are the local gays demonstrating for?

A few weeks ago the research unit of the Knesset posted a paper they'd prepared about the legal status of gay marriages in Israel and elsewhere. (In Hebrew, of course). It tells that there are seven countries in the world that recognize gay marriages, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Canada and South Africa; also, five States in the US. Then there is a larger group, though not that large, that recognizes varying forms of civil arrangements. Israel is near the top of that group, with arrangements that are functionally the same as marriage, without the name.

I followed this up by checking with a legal fellow who's invovlved in this matter. He agreed with me that the legal rights of homosexuals in Israel are mostly guaranteed, and there isn't much left to kvetch about. He even agreed with the logic of my position that marriage itself, being a cultural and religious institution with many layers of meaning to it, is better left alone, and told me that's also the position of the Supreme Court. He'd probably like it otherwise, but he can see the sense of the compormise.

I'd have you compare this with the Arab world, but that would be snarky of me. So compare it to Asia Africa or South America, instead.


4infidels said...

Why wouldn't the Knesset publish this report in English and make sure the international press was aware of it?

I know PR isn't an Israeli strength, but this isn't rocket science or brain surgery. If it was, the Israelis would probably be great at it.

Anonymous said...

If only the rights of women in Jewish marriage in Israel were as protected of those of gays in a civil union!


Anonymous said...

You may want to read Ethan Bronner on this gay's misery in Israel - this is not the Ethan Bronner I've gotten used to -
i.e. "The settlers have been filmed beating up Palestinians. Settlers have been killed by Palestinians."

Thomas Stern said...

I think what you're missing here is the fact that gay parades are not necessarily expressions of discontent. Nowadays, they are more celebratory than activist (except of course in places like Poland or Russia, where the gay rights situation is still abysmal and the parades are therefore highly political - and dangerous - acts) - a celebration of a freedom that until not too long ago didn't exist. Think of it as the homosexual community's slightly more flamboyant version of Purim (or much more flamboyant version of Passover).

(Sorry for the belated comment, btw - I enjoy reading your blog, but I didn't get around to checking it out in some time.)