Israeli Military Denies Approving Facebook Post Saluting LGBTQ Troops

Army says Coming Out Day statement was 'not approved according to procedure'

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Participants in a Pride Parade in Kfar Sava, June 2018.
Participants in a Pride Parade in Kfar Sava, June 2018.Credit: Haaretz

The Israeli army spokesman’s office said it did not approve a statement in support of LGBTQ soldiers posted Sunday by the Israel Defense Forces technological and logistics directorate, and that it would “clarify procedures.”

The post, which appeared on the unit’s Facebook page, was written in honor of the annual Coming Out Day, which raises awareness of LGBTQ issues.

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“We're proud of you! We just wanted to remind you that you are seen and loved,” the post said.

On Monday a report was published on the religious-programming Channel 20 website criticizing the post for going against army policy in addressing what it said was a controversial issue. In response to the Channel 20 report, the military said: “A variety of special days of observance is noted on the social media accounts of the technology and logistics wing throughout the year. As part of a local initiative of the digital entity of the wing, this particular post was published. The post was not approved according to procedure and therefore procedures for approving posts will be clarified.”

According to a 2017 report of a poll by the Israeli gay youth organization IGI, 95 percent of LGBTQ soldiers in the IDF have encountered homophobia. Half of the respondents said they had been a very frequent target of anti-LGBTQ comments.

Hila Pe’er, chairwoman of Aguda – Israel’s LGBTQ Task Force, told Haaretz in response: “The IDF encompasses most of the groups in Israeli society, and extreme elements must not be allowed to dictate its spirit.” Pe’er added that LGBTQ people serving in the IDF “face discrimination, exclusion and homophobia in the army even today. These are problems that have to be dealt with and talked about and under no circumstances must they be swept under the rug.”

This month, members of LGBTQ rights groups met with the IDF’s chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Ophir Levius and with the chief of staff’s adviser on gender issues, Brig. Gen. Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi, following a number of instances of anti-LGBTQ behavior in the army. Pe’er said: “The IDF is promoting a program on the matter and it is one of the most progressive armies in the world” regarding the LGBT community, “but there is a lot of work to be done. The time has come that the army also come out of the closet and not hide its attitude toward the gay community serving in it.”

The army spokesman’s office declined to respond to this report.

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