israel_gay_pride1_wide-2421ec4314808d73ec47eb4227330db7afdc030e-650x365Canada/Israel: Israel is the only country in West Asia that treats the gay community with respect and dignity but this fact is not good enough, writes Diane Weber Bederman in the

Highlighting the situation in the region Bederman shows how in 2012 in Iran, Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli an influential cleric and an Islamic scholar referred to homosexuals as “inferior to dogs and pigs.”

It’s illegal to be homosexual in 78 countries. Five countries have the death penalty: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania. Even though Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE already outlaw homosexuality, they’re toughening their stance. And there are “Gay medical tests” that must be taken to gain entry into Saudi Arabia, Bederman writes.

Qatar which has a poor human rights record in general, has declared homosexual acts between men illegal and punishable up to seven years imprisonment.

“Instead of protecting sexual minorities, the Iraqi government facilitates their murder by arresting the victims and handing them over to militias who kill them,” Ali Hilli founder of Iraqi LGBT was quoted as saying.

President of Israel Shimon Peres said: “Even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights. We have no power to take away [their] rights. We cannot take away someone’s rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them.”

Israel is one of the most progressive states regarding the rights of gays and lesbians in the West — certainly more forward thinking than the USA. American Airlines rated Tel Aviv “the best ‘gay city’ in the world, with a whopping 43 per cent of the vote, more than tripling second place New York.”

Tel Aviv is host to an annual gay pride parade that celebrates gay life and has a memorial to remember the gay and lesbian victims of Nazi persecution.

Israel allows openly gay individuals to serve in the military and without affecting eligibility for promotion.

“That’s Israel. It is the only country in the area — the Middle East and North Africa — that treats the gay community with respect and dignity. Not good enough for some gay-rights activists,” writes Bederman in

Nada Elia, a professor of gender and global studies at Antioch University in Seattle claimed Israel, “uses ‘gay-friendly’ as a mask to distract from the reality” and Israel is “sending out the ‘cool, hip people’ to distract from the reality of war.”

Sarah Shulman wrote Israeli pinkwashing is “a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.”

Nonetheless, attacks on Israel demean the fight that the gay community has fought for decades to destroy this stigma. The attacks belittle them and all those countries, including Canada and the USA, who are finally opening their hearts, minds and laws to this once horribly maligned community, wrote Bederman.