Photo: Getty Image
No reason to hide (Illustration photo)
Photo: Getty Image

Homophobia alive and kicking

Attack on homosexual couple in Tel Aviv reminder that hate still exists

The attack on the homosexual couple at the heart of Tel Aviv raises concern, anger, and mostly prompts thoughts about the manner in which all of us within Israeli society allow violence to take root.


The couple’s grave sin – a brief kiss on the street – led to violence that could have easily resulted in grave damage. The intolerable ease with which a derogatory “homos” chant progressed into guys armed with bats chasing the couple shows that homophobia is alive and kicking, feeding on hatred and posing true danger.


Tel Aviv justifiably characterizes itself as a liberal, open, and equal city. City hall’s attitude to homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals is among the most progressive and appropriate. However, even a city that over the years adopted the pride flag, we still see cases that remind us of dark periods in dark places. Crimes as result of sexual orientation are being carried out worldwide, yet we still would like to believe that it cannot happen in our home.


Not long ago, I was asked to respond to a censored kiss between men on a reality TV show. Channel Two officials felt prime time was no time for a kiss between two men. However, it’s just a kiss. The romance between two men or two women is no different than the romance between a man and a woman. There is nothing to fear.


Often I hear criticism from those who define themselves as open and accepting. “We have no problem with you or with your rights, but why do it publically? Why the parades?” they ask. We need to deal with these statements. Our rights and our acceptance require that our love be accepted the way it is.


Tel Aviv is my home

Pushing homosexual love into the darkness, behind curtains and closed doors, constitutes the real homophobia. So many times I heard the statement: “Do whatever you want, but in your own home.” Yet Tel Aviv is my home. Israel is my home. I have no reason to hide.


And this isn’t the first case. A few months ago, a couple was attacked in southern Tel Aviv. In that case too, the assailants were armed with chains and bats, and managed to hurt the couple. We are not dealing with a one-time case of hooliganism, but rather, with a dangerous phenomenon within Israeli society.


This hatred must be uprooted, via an educational and PR campaign and by imparting clear values to all strata of society – accepting the different, recognizing a person’s right to choose his sexual orientation, and our duty as a society to respect any choice.


Violence is a plague that cannot be justified or legitimized. Those who do not wholeheartedly condemn the assault on a homosexual couple are afflicted by this plague as well. This case serves to highlight how much work is left for us to do before we can say with certainty that Israel accepts any person, regardless of religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation.


Yaniv Weizman is a member of Tel Aviv’s city council and advises the mayor on homosexual community affairs


פרסום ראשון: 05.22.09, 00:47
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