Israeli homosexuals came out of the closet and into the national spotlight last night in a three-and-a-half-hour television panel discussion, the first ever in Israel to deal with the problems of homosexuals in this country. The program featured two male homosexuals who readily identified themselves and several others whose faces were concealed from viewers. Two psychiatrists and two MKS were also on the panel.
The MKs took diametrically opposing views on the issue of liberalizing Israel’s strict laws proscribing homosexual acts. Ms. Shulamit Aloni of the leftist Yaad faction, declared that the laws must be changed because homosexuals have the same right as all citizens to follow their own life-style in private without fear of blackmail and loss of jobs. She rejected the claim by one of the psychiatrists that homosexuality was a disease.
Yedidia Beeri, of the right wing Likud faction. said he would fight against liberalizing the laws because he believed that lifting the ban on homosexual acts would be to admit they were “a good thing” and permissible.
LESBIANS, HOMOSEXUALS ARE ORGANIZED
I. Angel, an admitted homosexual who participated in the discussion, disclosed for the first time that an organization exists in Israel for homosexuals and lesbians. During the course of the program, unverified reports were mentioned that about five percent of Israel’s male population was homosexual. There was no estimate of the number of female homosexuals in the country.
One of the homosexuals, who declined to be identified, alleged that he had been abused by bullies and by the police. A senior police officer who appeared on the program said that on the recommendation of the Attorney General, the laws against homosexuality were hardly ever enforced.
The program contained a 10-minute taped interview with representative Israelis on the subject which indicated widespread public prejudice and ignorance regarding homosexuality. A majority of the persons interviewed said they would refuse to employ a homosexual or rent a room to one. The program also included a BBC-TV film on homosexuality which depicted a religious marriage ceremony between two male homosexuals.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.