Israel was ranked as the seventh happiest place in the world for gay men to live on the first ever annual Gay Happiness Index, which surveyed over 115,000 gay men in 127 countries. The survey named Iceland as the country in which gay men feel most accepted and happiest to live in, followed by their Nordic neighbors Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Israel ranked above the United Kingdom (23) and also above the United States (26). Germany’s Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and the gay dating network PlanetRomeo collaborated to complete this study.
Two major legal cases in Israel involved homosexuality. On Jan. 10,
Tel Aviv District Court, acting as an IDF appeals committee, ordered the army to recognize Adir Steiner as the
common-law spouse of the late Col. Doron Maisel and to grant him
benefits as an IDF widower.
Maisel, who died of cancer in November 1991, had
lived with Steiner since 1984. The two shared finances and their
relationship was public knowledge. Steiner asked the army for the
compensation it pays bereaved spouses and for recognition as
Maisels spouse for memorial purposes. The army refused, saying that
only heterosexual couples qualify.
Steiners attorney argued that the law does not
rule out common-law spouses of the same sex and that the IDFs
position was discriminatory. The committee ruled that a woman in
Steiners position would be eligible for the benefitsas the law
applies to both married and common-law spousesand that he was being
denied them merely because he is male. The committee accepted the
appellants claim that the law applies equally to relations between
members of the same sex. The IDF appealed to
Jerusalem District Court, claiming that the language of the law
governing IDF pensions cannot be interpreted to
entitle same-sex partners.
Steiner had filed two other petitions as well. In
early February, in response to one of themfiled with the High Court
of Justice in July 1996Defense Minister Itzchak
Mordechay announced that his ministry would recognize Steiner
as if he were a family member in memorial matters. This status
would allow him to attend and receive free transportation to memorial
services, contribute to an entry in a memorial book, and receive a
grant with which to memorialize Maisel. Steiner had argued that the
benefits are given to live-in heterosexual partners and that,
according to the Danilowitz precedent, homosexual partners are equally
entitled to them. The Steiner decision was more far-reaching than the
Danilowitz ruling, which dealt with a private contract; gay-rights
activists expect the former to have ramifications for the entire
public sector. In Steiners third suit, he sought recognition as the
widower of a fallen soldier on the grounds that Maisels cancer was
caused by exposure to the sun during his IDF service; in early 1998, Steiner was appealing a verdict in favor of
the Defense Ministry.
The other case concerned Education Minister Zevulun Hammers decision to scuttle the broadcast of an
Educational Television program on homosexual teenagers. On the
program, part of ETVs Open Cards series, homosexual teens and the mother of a homosexual boy told their
stories to a teenage audience, followed by questions and comments from
the audience. It was originally slated to be aired on Oct. 10, 1996.
Hammer postponed it to Nov. 21, but on Nov. 20 said he was postponing
it again in order to review it personally. No new date was set. In
early January Hammers media advisor told the Knesset Committee on
the Status of Women that Hammer was delaying the program because he
considered its message inappropriate for an educational medium.
On Jan. 13, 1997, the Association for Civil Rights
in Israel (ACRI), joined by the Lesbian
Feminist Community and the Association for the Protection of
Individual Rights of Homosexuals, Lesbians, and Bisexuals in Israel,
petitioned the High Court to overturn Hammers decision. ACRI argued that the Education Minister has no authority to interfere with ETV programming. Furthermore, alleged the petitioners, Hammers decision
violated freedom of expression. They asserted that one-third of teen
suicides are related to homosexuality; the program was extremely
important, because it shows homosexual teenagers that they are not
alone and gives heterosexual teens a better understanding of their
There were two main issues: Did the program present
homosexuality in a one-sided manner that encouraged teens to try it
themselves? Was the program appropriate for an educational series?
Hammer contended that the program was definitely one-sided. He
supported his view with the opinions of experts who asserted that it
lacked balance, ignored social values, and encouraged homosexual
experimentation. According to these experts, the program should be
made more balanced and should be moved to a non-educational television
channel. The petitioners submitted the opposing opinions of other
On Sept. 21, the High Court ordered Hammer to
permit the program to be aired. In his decision, Justice Yaakov
Kedmi wrote that homosexuality per se is no longer a deviation
to be fought. As for the argument that the program did not belong on
an educational television station, Kedmi wrote that education is
a broad concept and therefore the program qualifies as educational. He
agreed that it was not balanced but insisted that this flaw did not
make it anti-educational. Although the justices ruled that
Hammer could not prevent the broadcast, they said that opponents could
express their opinion in a complementary discussion at the end
of the program.
Six individuals were stabbed at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade on July 30, 2015, by an Ultra-Orthodox Jew. The attacker, Yishai Schlissel, had been released from prison just weeks prior after completing a 12 year sentence for stabbing three individuals at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade in 2005. Schlissel emerged behind spectators at the rally and began stabbing wildly and screaming, before being apprehended by security personnel. While being questioned, Schlissel asserted that he did not accept the rulings and authority of the Israeli courts because they were not based in the Torah. One of Schlissel's victims, 16 year old Shira Banki, died of her stab wounds a few days after the attack. Schlissel was convicted of murder and multiple charges of attempted murder on April 19, 2016, and he could face life in prison.
Following the opening of the mixed-gender prayer space at Robinson's Arch, transexual Jewish people could pray for the first time without fear of having to misgendering themselves at the Kotel. The site is managed by a government appointed pluralistic council including Orthodox and non-Orthodox representatives.
The Knesset officially designated February 23, 2016, as the state of Israel's official LGBT rights day. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the Knesset marking the occasion, claiming that he had come to say one thing to the Israeli LGBT community: every person was created in the image of God. Amir Ohana, a gay Knesset member from Netanyahu's Likud party, compared LGBT peoples to Jews, who throughout history have been “hated for no reason, persecuted, discriminated against and faced forced conversion.” Although it was a celebratory atmosphere as the Knesset honored the first LGBT rights day, they failed to pass legislation the following day that would have recognized same-sex widows of slain soldiers, recognized civil unions, banned conversion therapy for minors, and required medical professionals to study gender and sexual orientation as part of their licensing process.
Popular Israeli professional basketball player Gili Mosinzon announced that he is bi-sexual in a Facebook posting on May 12, 2016, Israel's Independence day. Mosinzon plays small forward for the Maccabi Bat Yam basketball team, and is generally considered one of Israel's best basketball players. In his 2,000 word post, Mosinzon spoke on issues of modern homophobia in sports, and stated that some of his fellow athletes have chosen suicide over “coming out of the closet.”
The first ever Miss Trans Israel contest is slated to take place on May 27, 2016, in the Meskin Auditorium at the Habima Theater in Tel Aviv. The twelve contestants, all born biologically as men, competed for a $15,000 prize as well as a place in the Miss Trans Star 2016 contest to be held in Barcelona, Spain, and the Miss International Queen 2016 contest held in Thailand. The winner from Miss Trans Star 2015, Miss Chile Vanessa Lopez, crowned Christian Israeli-Arab Ta’alin Abu Hanna as the first ever Miss Trans Israel.
In July 2016 the city of Beersheba's first ever gay pride march was cancelled, after the route was altered by the Israeli Supreme Court due to concerns of violence in the area.
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced on December 8, 2016, that the naturalization process for same-sex couples in Israel would from then on be the same as the process for heterosexual couples. For heterosexual couples the transition period to full citizenship took approximately four years; but the Israeli Gay Fathers Association asserted in a petition to Mandelblit that it was not uncommon for homosexual couples to have to wait seven years or more. On top of this, the couples were often granted permanent residency instead of citizenship. The organization lauded the decision as “a huge victory against discrimination for same sex couples.”