Tel Aviv's gay pride parade on June 7, 2013. Credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
By Alina Dain Sharon/JNS.org
Should society accept homosexuality? In America, where the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 decided to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it has already been legalized, 60 percent of respondents to a Pew Research Center survey released in June said “yes” and 33 percent said “no.” But in most of the Middle East, the issue of LGBT rights isn’t likely to spark the spirited debate that it does in the U.S.
Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, in addition to the Palestinian territories, all had more than 95 percent of respondents answer no to the same question in the Pew survey. But then there are Israelis, who, although divided in their attitudes, are undeniably more accepting of the LGBT community than their Arab neighbors. Forty-seven percent of Israelis responded no to whether society should accept homosexuality, and 40 percent responded yes.
Israel is an oasis in an otherwise-barren Middle East for LGBT rights. A number of Palestinian LGBT individuals who experience persecution seek asylum in Tel Aviv, a city that hosts its annual Gay pride parade attracting more than 100,000 people, and was voted “Best of Gay Cities 2011” in an American Airlines survey.
“I see LGBT rights as part of an overal social justice, the right of a human to live as he/she is without masks is a basic right,” Shai
Deutsch, chaiman of Aguda, the national association of the LGBT community in Israel, told JNS.org in an email.
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