United States makes gay rights progress, still behind
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 17:03
This Valentine’s Day, the Illinois State Senate passed a bill allowing for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Now that 10 states in the union have passed progressive same-sex marriage laws, it has become quite clear the national consensus on the topic is making a drastic shift in recognizing gay rights as civil rights. However, the United States is not the only country struggling to push for the equality of all citizens regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation. The university’s own Israel U organization recently hosted Captain Avner Even-Zohar, a former member of the Israeli military and gay rights activist, to showcase how Israel represents a model of cultural sensitivity and acceptance.
Tel Aviv, Israel is known as one of the friendliest cities in the world to the LGBT community, surpassing metropolises like New York City and London by a large margin. Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai, proudly responded to the poll, saying, “Victory in this competition further highlights the fact that Tel Aviv is a city that respects all people equally, and allows all people to live according to their values and desires. This is a free city in which everyone can feel proud, and be proud of who they are.”
Israel’s strong, democratic tradition and cultural acceptance were also cited as reasons for the country being considered the most progressive nation in regards to same-sex legislation, according to the British news outlet The Independent. This is all in stark contrast to what happens to members of the LGBT community in the countries surrounding Israel. For example, Saudi Arabia has a policy of beheading homosexuals, while Hamas (the government in power in the Gaza strip) tends to refer to homosexuals as perverted and mentally sick. The need for tolerance has never been more important, and Israel’s commitment to the acceptance of the LGBT community is to be praised and shared as well as incorporated into the fabric of the United States’ legal system.
Not only is Tel Aviv remarkably accepting of the LGBT community, Israel’s legislation on gay rights makes it one of the most progressive countries in the region. When compared to the country as a whole, Israel’s government has been able to institute comprehensive reforms that we should hope to accomplish. While it was an offense worthy of dishonorable discharge to show gay pride in the U.S. Military as recently as two years ago, Israel was able to pass national legislation outlawing discrimination against homosexuality in the workplace in the early 1990s In fact, though former President Bill Clinton and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin were elected in the same year, Rabin was able to guarantee freedom from discrimination for gays in the military while his counterpart was unable to do so. This is not to say the United States is irreversibly behind the times, or we have not made promising commitments to the cause of equality in the last few years. However, Israel’s historical support for members of the LGBT community can and should be a reminder of how high we as a nation can achieve in regards to treating our citizens humanely.
It is with the full support of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East reporting in America I am able to educate my friends and peers on current affairs in an often-misunderstood region of the world.
Josh Rutstein is a guest columnist for The Review. His viewpoints do not necessarily represent those of The Review staff. Please send comments to email@example.com.