Hostility to the LGBT cause shows that, at the moment of truth, some on the left will sacrifice our cause on the altar of another cause.
While the fight for LGBT equality gained impressive and exciting public support this week, the magnitude of the support seems to be matched by a sneering attitude on the part of some of this paper’s writers. Ada Ushpiz called the community smug and self-righteous, and accused the LGBT cause of perpetuating racism. Yaron Gilat saw the demonstrations as a sign of the masses getting carried away in a neo-fascist daze, and Gideon Levy described the protest as coming from a powerful, well-connected group that’s become trendy. And Abed Azab chimed in to explain that same-sex couples have no “natural” right to become parents.
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I won’t address Levy and Gilat’s defamatory comments about surrogacy, written from an ignorant, patronizing and self-righteous stance, because a surrogate (Zvia Weisberger) and a woman who was helped by the services of a surrogate (Liat Elkayam) have already responded. I won’t get into a lengthy explanation about parenthood for Azab’s sake, but I do wonder if he has ever heard about heterosexual couples using adoption, sperm donation, fertility treatments and surrogacy, for when it comes to those couples, everything is apparently natural in his view. Azab’s column harkens back to the days when homosexuality was considered “unnatural” and it’s hard to believe such things could appear in Haaretz in 2018.
Instead I would like to ponder how, even in 2018, the liberal homophobia that I called attention to here five years ago is returning to center stage. Liberal homophobia has many faces. In the past, it was mainly seen in the distinction made between private and public – Do what you like in the privacy of your homes but don’t make a public spectacle of it; or in a modified version – a pride parade in Tel Aviv is fine but why insist on holding one in Jerusalem? And then there was this version: A person’s sexual orientation is his own private matter; forgetting that only homosexual orientation is considered a private matter, while heterosexuality is always public.
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Liberal homophobia – or what ought now to be called leftist homophobia – has acquired a new twist: Now it deems the LGBT struggle is a trendy bourgeois matter, with some people complaining about why there should be a big fuss over this and not over the nation-state law, for example. I have spoken out frequently against “pinkwashing” – using LGBT rights in the service of Israeli propaganda and appropriating the fight for LGBT equality for such purposes.
It is certainly important to frame the LGBT cause as part of a general struggle for equality and democracy, and so it was good that some of the speakers at the rally on Sunday brought up the nation-state law and its connection with the surrogacy law. I would also be happy if there was a similar awakening and mass rally against the nation-state law. It disturbs me to see that this is not happening. But that’s a long way from being any reason to dismiss the importance of this demonstration.
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Why does it bother so many people when the LGBT community rises up to protest the discrimination explicitly directed against it by newly passed legislation? As Ravit Hecht pointed out (Haaretz, July 23), it’s interesting how people who never showed the least bit of interest in surrogacy become critical only when it comes to surrogacy for homosexuals.
Surrogacy has been legal in Israel since 1996 and has been used by many heterosexual couples without any problem. Much of the current discussion about it is homophobia in the guise of concern for women’s rights. Liberal homophobia also manifests itself in the belittling of this cause, using phrases that liken LGBT to some silly bourgeois cause.
It ignores the discrimination that members of the LGBT community endure in many areas of life. It ignores how “homo” and “tranny” are still common curse words in Israel. It ignores the high rates of depression and suicide among LGBT youth and the (still unsolved) murders at the Barnoar plus a murder at a Jerusalem gay pride parade, and the prevalence of violence against transgender people. To some leftists, the LGBT fight for equality is an egocentric or frivolous luxury. To echo the protesters’ cry: For shame!