LGBT history in Israel

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19th century[edit]

In 1858, the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the area of modern-day Israel and Palestine as part of Ottoman Syria, abolished its existing sodomy laws.

Beginning in 1882, Ashkenazi Jewish migrants from the Russian Empire flee to Israel in a series of waves to escape rising anti-Semitism, encouraged by Theodor Herzl's Zionism. It is not known if the growth in nuance for homosexuality began with any of the early Russian settlers, as the territory from which they had migrated had largely been populated with homophobic cultural traits; however, as Jewish Russians were only recently beginning to integrate into mainstream Russian society away from the Pale of Settlement, views on homosexuality likely sharply differed between Jewish intellectuals and religious clerics when migrating to, and establishing the agricultural settlements in the area.

20th century[edit]


In 1918, the Ottoman Empire was dissolved, and the territory was occupied by the United Kingdom. In 1923 the United Kingdom was given the territory as part of the British Mandate for Palestine. By default, existing laws against "buggery" were installed by the colonial administration. They were continued by the newly formed Israeli government in 1948.


In 1963, the attorney General declared that sodomy laws installed under the British mandate would not be enforced. In 1988, sexual relations between persons of the same sex was officially made legal.[1]


  • In 1992 legislation was introduced to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, with some exemptions for religious organizations.
  • In 1993, the Israeli Parliament revised the military rules so that gay, lesbian and bisexual Israelis can serve openly and on an equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts; homosexuals have been allowed to serve openly in the military, including special units.
  • The first Pride parade in Tel Aviv took place in 1993.
  • MK Yael Dayan makes an impassioned speech before the Knesset for gay and lesbian rights in Israel, quoting Torah passages regarding David's relationship with Jonathan.
  • In 1994, unregistered cohabitation was legalized for the first time.

21st century[edit]



Family and relationship rights[edit]
  • An Israeli family court on March 17, 2002 turned down an application from a lesbian couple to have their partnership union declared legal. The couple was united in a civil ceremony in Germany. The women wanted the court to recognize their partnership as a civil marriage, under Israeli law. The court said that since the women are not recognized as a family under Israeli law, the court is not authorized to rule on their case. A government lawyer who was asked by the court to give a legal opinion on the case on behalf of the Israeli government said that the state objected to granting the request.
  • On December 14, 2004, the Nazareth District Court ruled that same-sex couples have the same rights as married couples in inheritance rights. This ruling overturned a Family Court ruling that an elderly man from Kiryat Shmona was not entitled to spousal rights. The man had sought the estate of his late partner, with whom he lived for several decades. The Nazareth judges ruled that the term "man and woman" as spelled out in Israel's inheritance law also includes same sex couples. Judges Nissim Maman and Gabriela Levy, who issued the majority opinion, based their decision on a loose interpretation of the term "partner" as defined in other court rulings, such as those dealing with issues related to employee benefits, and thus applied the interpretation to the inheritance law. The acting president of the Nazareth District Court, Menachem Ben-David, issued the minority opinion, arguing that the legal text should not be interpreted "contrary to the lingual significance." A government spokesperson said the ruling will be appealed.
  • In December 2004, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled that the government cannot deport the Colombian partner of a gay Israeli man. The 32-year-old Colombian entered Israel on a visitors visa which has long expired and the Interior Ministry had ordered him deported. His partner is an Israeli citizen and a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. The couple filed an emergency petition with the Tel Aviv District Court. The men were represented by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Judge Uzi Vogelman ruled that the government had acted illegally in attempting to deport the man. In 1999 Supreme Court ruling established that the ministry could not deport foreign nationals married to Israeli citizens. Vogelman's decision extends that to apply to common-law marriages, including same-sex couples.
  • In March 2008, Israel's Interior Ministry granted a gay Palestinian from Jenin a rare residency permit to live with his partner of 8 years in Tel Aviv after he said his sexuality put his life in danger in the West Bank.[2]
Other events[edit]

In 2001, Pride is first held in Eilat (Eilat Pride).


Family and relationship rights[edit]

On January 10, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian couple is able to legally adopt each other's children. During the past 15 years that Tal and Avital Jarus-Hakak have lived together, they have had a total of three children. In November 2005, a groundbreaking court decision in Israel ruled that a lesbian spouse could officially adopt a child born to her current partner by artificial insemination from an anonymous sperm donor; this ruling came despite protests by the minority Orthodox Jewish parliamentary parties.

Following the supreme court ruling, a lesbian couple was allowed to adopt each other's biological children on February 12, 2006. Before that, gay partners of parents were granted guardianship over their partner's children.

On March 10, 2009, the Tel Aviv family court ruled that former Knesset member Uzi Even and his partner, Amit Kama, can legally adopt their 30-year-old foster son, Yossi, making them the first same-sex male couple in Israel whose right of adoption has been legally acknowledged.[3]

On January 29, 2007, following a Supreme Court ruling ordering them to do so, Jerusalem registered its first gay couple, Avi and Binyamin Rose.[4]

Events and incidents[edit]

On 30 June 2005, the fourth annual Pride march of Jerusalem took place. It had originally been prohibited by a municipal ban which was cancelled by the court. Many of the religious leaders of Jerusalem's Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities had arrived to a rare consensus asking the municipal government to cancel the permit of the paraders. During the parade, a Haredi Jewish man, Yishai Schlissel, attacked three people with a kitchen knife and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime.

Another parade, this time billed as an international event,[5] was scheduled to take place in the summer of 2005, but was postponed to 2006 due to the stress on police forces during in the summer of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. In 2006, it was again postponed due to the Israel-Hezbollah war. It was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on 10 November 2006, and caused a wave of protests by Haredi Jews around central Israel;[6] the ugliest incident took place during the 2006 Jerusalem gay pride parade.

The Israel National Police had filed a petition to cancel the parade due to foreseen strong opposition. Later, an agreement was reached to convert the parade into an assembly inside the Hebrew University stadium in Jerusalem. 21 June 2007, the Jerusalem Open House organization succeeded in staging a parade in central Jerusalem after police allocated thousands of personnel to secure the general area. The rally planned afterwards was cancelled due to an unrelated national fire brigade strike which prevented proper permits from being issued.

In 2008 the City of Tel Aviv opened the Municipal LGBT Community Center, the first of its kind in the country.

In August 2009, an armed attacker shot dead two people and injured 15 more in an attack on a lesbian and gay centre in Tel Aviv.[7] The incident has been deplored by many organizations and government officials, such as the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Shimon Peres.

In July 2015, Yishai Schlissel, an Orthodox Jew released from prison after spending 10 years in jail for stabbing participants in a 2005 LGBT pride event in Jerusalem, attacked six marchers with a knife. One of the victims, a teenage girl named Shira Banki, died of her wounds.[8] A central square in Jerusalem is to be renamed "Tolerance Square" in memory of Banki.



  1. ^ "Where is it illegal to be gay?". BBC News. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Gay Palestinian gets OK to live with Israeli lover". Reuters. 2008-03-25. 
  3. ^ Edelman, Ofra (2009-03-11). "Gay couple wins right to adopt foster son". Haaretz. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  4. ^ Eglash, Ruth (2007-01-30). "Jerusalem registers its first gay couple". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-06-17. 
  5. ^ WorldPride, archived from the original on 2008-07-19 
  6. ^ "9 Protesters Detained at Anti-Gay Pride Demonstration". Arutz 7. 2006-11-01. 
  7. ^ "Two killed in shooting at Tel Aviv gay center". Haaretz. 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  8. ^ 16-year-old gay pride marcher dies from stab wounds in Jerusalem CNN, 3 August 2015

External links[edit]