Photo Credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)
President Rivlin received the first 'Municipal LGBTQ Index' of responses, June 7, 2020

Marking “Pride Month,” President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday received the first “Municipal LGBTQ Index” produced by the Aguda, The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel. The index lists responses and services in 30 municipal authorities in Israel in 2019 to the LGBTQ community. The report was presented by Aguda chair Hila Peer. The mayors of Kiryat Bialik, Rishon Letzion, Ramat Gan, Ramat Hasharon, Givatayim and representatives of the LGBTQ community also participated in the event.

According to the report, Tel Aviv-Yafo comes on top in LGBTQ relations in a number of categories including infrastructure, welfare and culture. In second place is Rishon Letzion, with particularly a high score for culture, and in third place is Givatayim. The president spoke with the mayors about the importance of providing support and services for the LGBTQ community at a municipal level and praised the high level of work being done to improve the welfare of LGBTQ residents.

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The social, medical and legal approach to homosexuality in the 1950s in the United States led for its inclusion in the first and second publications of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as a mental disorder. However, the evolution in scientific study and empirical data from Kinsey, Evelyn Hooker and others confronted these beliefs, and by the 1970s psychiatrists and psychologists were radically altering their views on homosexuality.

The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) calls sexual intercourse between two males as to’eivah (abhorrence) which may result in the killing of one of or both participants. But while the vast majority of Orthodox rabbis condemn any manner of same-sex relations, former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has written: “Compassion, sympathy, empathy, understanding — these are essential elements of Judaism. They are what homosexual Jews who care about Judaism need from us today.”

“Humanity as a whole must understand, and Israelis must understand, not to say that this or that tendency is a disease,” said the president after receiving the report. “In any way that a person can be happy and creative, they can reach the same accomplishments as anyone else. We cannot, in a society like ours, talk about conversion therapies for LGBTQ people. We cannot allow it. There is no disease here, and so there is no need for treatment.”

“It is essential that everyone has the opportunity to live their life as they wish, particularly when they also allow others to live lives as they wish. Enough of talking about conversion therapy. There is no need for someone who is absolutely healthy to receive treatment,” the president said.

At the end of his remarks, the president reiterated, “Receiving this report, I want to stress that all conversion therapies must be taken off the social agenda in Israel. Thank you, mayors, for your leadership. Local government in Israel is a great source of optimism.”

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