The Jerusalem Post
Foreign Ministry hosts LGBT pride event
In honor of LGBT Pride Month new Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll hosted an event Wednesday to recognize the strides Israel has made toward acceptance of queer people. The event, which was attended in person and streamed on Facebook Live, was the first of its kind from the Foreign Ministry.
The event began with his introduction followed by a speech about the importance of recognizing the rights of LGBT people. The topic of LGBT rights is one of particular significance to Roll as he identifies as a member of the gay community.
Roll spoke about frequently being questioned on the agenda behind Israel’s gay pride events.
Roll’s response to those inquiries is that “there is no agenda, there’s no strategy. It’s just a matter of life being stronger than policy. It’s people wanting to be in love and have a family.”
As much as gay pride has increased over the years in Israel, Roll implores all those listening no matter their status or perceived level of power to take matters into their own hands.
“You don’t have to be a social activist to
make change,” said Roll. “Legislators make change and so do reporters and artists, but so does one individual that goes to HR and wants to create an event to celebrate gay members of their company.”
Following Roll’s speech was a video titled “The Evolution of the Revolution: Pride in Israel” in which various openly gay members of Israeli society spoke about their experiences.
One particularly momentous occasion highlighted in the video was the acceptance of gay individuals in the IDF.
“When the IDF said that those out of the closet are not a security threat, everyone said, ‘well who are we to question that,’ said founder and former chairman of Likud Pride, Evan Cohen. “The army is the melting pot of Israel. It’s where everything comes together.”
The program concluded with a live interview of Efrat Tilma, a transgender activist, police volunteer and “professional glass-ceiling breaker.”
Tilma detailed her life experiences growing up transgender and throughout her career as an air stewardess and member of the police force in Israel.
She reminded the audience that despite the advances Israel has made for the LGBT community, over 50% of transgender Israelis commit suicide.
“They need work,” Tilma said of transgender Israelis. “People need to understand them and hear my story. The more that they hear my story in every place in Israel, the better lives transgender people will have.”
The event was attended by over 70 people via Facebook Live with more heads of diplomatic missions gathering in person.