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Mon Jun 11, 2018, 03:13 PM

Feeling 'pride' for Israel, pioneers in LGBTQ community reflect on past and present

Tel Aviv’s Pride Week 2018, themed “The Community Makes History,” has culminated with five historical milestones: 10 years since the founding of the Gay Center in Tel Aviv, 20 years since Tel Aviv’s first Pride Week, 30 years since the annulment of a law banning gay relations, 70 years of Israeli independence and a record 250,000 people participating in the June 8 parade, many of them tourists from around the world.

Each year, Tel Aviv’s pride parade is the largest such event in Asia and the Middle East, and one of the largest parades in the world. Reflecting on the country’s vibrant LGBTQ community, pioneers of the movement shared with JNS their thoughts on Israel’s past LGBTQ report card up until now, as the country has reached various historical milestones.

Professor Uzi Even, a former scientist at the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona and a professor emeritus of physical chemistry at Tel Aviv University, was the first openly gay member of Israel’s Knesset. He successfully petitioned the government to decriminalize homosexuality and allow LGBTQ people to serve equally in the army.

Born in 1940, he recalled a time in which LGBTQ were “hunted down by police” in Israel. In February 1993, he led and witnessed a turning point in changing the policies of Israeli society. Within three months of his army-based initiative, a committee was arranged and a new military code was made, ensuring no discrimination in recruitment or placement of LGBTQ soldiers.

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