Israel Looking For Gay Volunteers to Promote Diversity
Israel is looking for gay and lesbians to volunteer as unofficial envoys in order to promote the country’s diversity, the Associated Press reported in a Jan. 5 article.
Israel’s ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs wants to promote the country’s international image by having diverse volunteers speak about Israel around the world. In a recent posting on the organization’s website, it calls for members of the LGBT community to volunteer.
Ministry spokesperson Gal Ilan said that the organization wants to promote the country’s strong diversity and that many people are unaware of Israel’s gay culture.
Even though Israel is one of the most forward-thinking countries in the Middle East in terms of gay issues, some have criticized the country for exploiting gays to promote gay tourism.
In a Nov. 2011, article by the New York Times, the term "pinkwashing," or the "deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life," is mentioned. Law professor at Tel Aviv University, Aeyal Gross, claims that the gay rights movement has been used as a public relations tool.
Nevertheless, even its most severe critics acknowledge that the tiny Jewish state is not only the nation in the region that is progressive about gay rights, it is also the only one that isn’t actively attacking its LGBT citizens when they are perceived to be practicing or even manifesting their sexual identity.
Although same-sex marriage is not legal in Israel, it is the only country in the Middle East and all of Asia to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed elsewhere.
The Civil Service Commission grants spousal benefits and pensions to partners of gay employees and the Israeli State Attorney’s Office has extended spousal tax benefits to gay couples.