In 1988, Israel decriminalized homosexuality, and within five years, the country had begun allowing openly gay soldiers to serve in the military and instituted a ban on anti-LGBTQ employment discrimination. Since 2006, Israel has recognized same-sex marriages performed abroad; 2008 marked the year that Israel began allowing same-sex couples to adopt children together; and, in 2014, Israel lowered the minimum age requirement for gender-affirming surgery for the transgender community. Just this month, incoming Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced that he would remove all questions about sexual activity from questionnaires for prospective blood donors, thus allowing gay men to give blood.
Over the past twenty-three years, LGBTQ rights have progressed at warp speed in Israel. In Tel Aviv, a city where only twenty or thirty years ago gay men were harassed on the streets by bullies both civilian and police, there is now a Municipal LGBT Center. Funded by the city government, this center aims to support, educate, and empower the city’s LGBTQ residents. The idea that taxpayer funds could go toward such an effort – especially in a state so influenced by intolerant religious attitudes – is nothing short of revolutionary.