Gay Israeli soldier photo goes viral on Facebook

Image of Israeli Defense Force soldiers holding hands released by army news desk for Pride Month

Gay Israeli soldier photo goes viral on Facebook
13 June 2012

A photo by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) showing two gay soldiers holding hands has gone viral on Facebook.

The official image has generated over 10,000 likes, 8,000 shares and a range of comments from the supportive to the comic and from the anti-Israeli to the homophobic.

The IDF posted the picture on the social networking site with the caption: ‘It’s Pride Month. Did you know that the IDF treats all of its soldiers equally? Let’s see how many shares you can get for this photo.’

From the outset, it created a huge response.

Eyal Resh commented: ‘As a solider I must say it is true! The IDF does treat its soldiers equally!’

While S Asher Gelman said: ‘Awesome photo! Reminds me of when my husband and I were in the army.’

Other comments were even jocular.

‘Gays with guns. I am all for it,’ said Christopher Riess.

But while most messages were positive, others were even homophobic.

Raymond Cisnero said: ‘Then the end of the world really is coming, if this is really happening in Israel, God’s favorite country. Then we are doomed, it’s gonna be Sodom and Gomorrah once again. All I know is, I’ll be going to heaven, don’t know about you guys.’

And Graeme Harrison raised the issue of Israel’s military power being abused: ‘Is this before or after they’ve shot some Palestinian children?’ he asked.

John Bobian, meanwhile, was one of those on Facebook to question whether it was a genuinely gay image at all: ‘Isn’t holding hands over there considered normal? I don’t see two gay men, I see two bro’s chillin’ through the burbs’,’ he said.

But the Jerusalem Post confirmed with IDF officials that the picture was gay, deliberately posted for Pride Month in Israel and had official backing from senior officers as a pro-LGBT publicity stunt.

‘This is definitely a huge success,’ one officer said. ‘It tells a different story of the IDF, which is important to share with the world.’

Israel’s military was comparatively early in allowing openly gay people to serve. While initial policy tended to view homosexuality as a mental illness, this was changed in 1993.

Discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers in recruitment, placement and promotion is banned and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation can be prosecuted. Gays even serve in special forces roles.

And the IDF recognize same-sex couples, including widows and widowers of servicepeople and soldiers are allowed to take part in gay pride marches.

However the Israel Gay Youth Movement (IGY) published a survey of openly LGBT soldiers in January which revealed out troops are often victims of verbal and physical violence and commanders frequently ignore the problems.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the IGY have met with a senior officer to discuss this.

‘Our study shows that there is still difficulty within the army with homosexuals and accepting them, although I am happy to say that the intention among the top brass is to change that,’ IGY head Avner Dafni said.

UPDATE: Times of Israel now claims the two soldiers in the photo are not a couple, only one of the two is gay, and both the soldiers serve in the IDF Spokesperson’s Office. The IDF declined to comment this but did say the photo reflects their open attitude towards gay soldiers.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Include intersex in Bill, say lobby groups and legal experts

'Intersex' must be listed in a separate category in new Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, Australian Senate hearing told
No thumbnail available

Late rocker Kurt Cobain thought he might be gay in his teens

Nirvana frontman who committed suicide in 1994 had wondered if 'that might be the solution to my problem'
No thumbnail available

Lesbian alien companion confirmed for Doctor Who

Sirulian Madame Vastra and human partner Jenny will star in the seventh series of the British science fiction show
The Gay Star Business mission

The Gay Star Business mission

Gay Star Business is an open, free, globally-accessible resource covering the latest LGBTI business news, analysis and thought leadership
No thumbnail available

One love: Uniting gay tennis around the world

GSN meets the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Association to find out about its clubs and tournaments across six continents
No thumbnail available

Laverne Cox nears the top of Time Magazine's reader poll

Trans actress is enjoying support from her fans who are determined to get her to the top of the online poll ahead of Time magazine’s 100 issue
No thumbnail available

US condemn mass arrest of LGBT Zimbabweans

US authorities have condemned political violence and harassment by Zimbabwean security forces against the country’s LGBT rights activists
Emmy winning actor confronts man hurling anti-gay slurs inside West Hollywood Starbucks

Emmy winning actor confronts man hurling anti-gay slurs inside West Hollywood Starbucks

Leslie Jordan of Will & Grace fame yelled 'Get out of my house!' and later threw drink on the man
No thumbnail available

Pussy Riot member says anti-gay Putin's amnesty law is a 'PR stunt'

Saying she would have rather stayed in prison, Maria Alyokhina remains strongly anti-Putin after his new amnesty law released her from jail three months early
No thumbnail available

NHS launches new gay doctors initiative

New ratings service aims to make sure lesbian, gay and bisexual people are confident in their local doctor