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  • Israel LGBTQ community organized a mass wedding to protest anti-gay laws in the country.

    Israel LGBTQ community organized a mass wedding to protest anti-gay laws in the country. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 June 2019

Often lauded as the Middle East's only gay-friendly country, activists in Isreal put on mass gay marriage ceremony to protest national laws that prohibit same-sex unions. 

An unofficial mass wedding was held in Tel Aviv by 23 gay couples to protest Israel’s discrimination against homosexual unions.

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“Struggle is not only about demonstrations and protests,” organizers said in a statement before the Tuesday event. “It is also about loving the one we want, the way we want," they said 

"So in a place where it is forbidden to us to marry, we will marry, and in a huge way. To love is not against the law,” said the LGBTQ Center that organized the event.

Israel prides itself for being the only gay-friendly country in the Middle East. Activists call this 'pinkwashing' as the Israeli government will allow gay pride marches, but still does not allow gay marriages or unions within its territory. They say the so-called pinkwashing is also an attempt to distract from Israel's systemic persecution of Palestinians and illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2017, dozens of LGBTQ Israeli activists joined forces to denounce homophobia in Israel and take a stand against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“To racist homophobes: There is no pride in occupation. There is no pride in expelling asylum seekers. There is no pride in throwing families into the street. Your violence, and that of the state, are nothing to be proud of.”

This month, Isreal host a major Gay Pride week, but in reality, the rights of the LGBTQ community are restricted by laws.

Homosexual marriage is illegal in the country while homophobia and transphobia is widespread especially among conservative religious groups. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish political parties continue to reject legislation on equal rights for the LGBTQs.

“In Israel 2019, the love of women, men or just non-Jews is still not a love that is worthy of the state’s stamp and therefore illegal,” said Adiya Imra Orr, who was married in the ceremony.

Israel also maintains it's a champion of women rights and has vilified Palestinians for not giving women equal rights. However, in March, extremist ultra-Orthodox Jews defaced posters of an Isreali woman mayoral candidate, Rachel Azaria, which resulted in a women’s rights campaign on public transportation.

The campaign brought up issues like the wage gap and safety of women in public spaces of Isreali.

“The international community often likes to spin the issue with gendered violence in Palestine as if it's an 'Arab problem' and Palestinian women need saving from Palestinian men,” Yara Hawari wrote for Al Jazeera in an article, 'Patriarchy in Palestine.'

“Such orientalist discourse propagates colonial views and white saviour-complex urges that are used to justify humanitarian interventionism," said Hawari.

"It is a frequently overlooked fact that Jewish women suffer from similar rates of gender-based violence within Israeli society,” she added.

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