The LGBT International Film Festival opened Thursday June 17 at San Francisco's beautiful Castro theater. In addition to the expected huge lines, there was an unusual twist. There were protesters. No, it wasn't the Westboro Community Church, but rather QUIT (Queers doing something regarding Israel- does anyone remember what their acronym stands for anyway?). QUIT was upset that the film festival had the audacity to allow the Israeli consulate to endorse the festival, and formed a picket line claiming “There is no justification for queer institutions to ignore this request for solidarity.” Yet not a single person honored their picket.
QUIT calls Israeli sponsorship of the festival "pinkwashing", claiming the Israeli government uses its liberal policies on gay rights to deflect external criticism. Why does Israel's progressive record on gay rights upset gay activists? Perhaps its because they keep wanting to frame Israel as a right wing theocracy, when it just refuses to fit into that mold.
Israel remains one of the most progressive countries in the world on LGBT issues and QUIT just doesn't want you to know this. But luckily, the intrepid activists from San Francisco Voice for Israel were there.
From the SF voice for Israel handout:
LGBT Rights in Israel:
* Gays have had full civil rights since 1992
* Gays have full rights to serve in the military
* Gays have partner adoption rights
* Gays have partner benefits for governmental employees
* Same gender marriages preformed abroad are recognized.
LGBT Pride in Israel
* The first transgender person to win the Eurovison contest was Israeli Dana International with her song "Diva".
* Openly gay singer Ivri Lidder is one of Israel's most popular entertainers.
* Openly gay movie producer Eytan Fox has created such popular movies Yossi and Jagger, Walk on Water and The Bubble
* Openly gay politicians have served in the Kenneset and on many local councils.
Just as the LGBT community wants equality, Israel strives for equality amongst the family of nations. Israel must be treated as an equal in the United nations. Israel must be treated fairly by the international news media, and must be recognized by its neighbors with normalized relations. With this in mind, San Francisco Voice for Israel will be marching again in the San Francisco pride parade on June 27, celebrating not just Israel's progressive record in LGBT rights, but acknowledging Israel's striving for equality in a very judgmental world.