The first openly gay man to become a cabinet minister in Israel was appointed Wednesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Amir Ohana will act as interim justice minister, following the sacking of the previous office holder, Ayelet Shaked.
“As a Jew, as an Israeli, as the partner of the love of my life Alon Haddad, as the father of Ella and David, as a Mizrachi, as a Likudnik, as a Beersheba native, as a liberal and as a lawyer who has spent thousands of hours in court, it is a great honor to serve Israel as justice minister,” Ohana said in a statement.
He is one of several openly gay officials in Israel. Last year, Ra’anana became the first city in Israel to have a gay mayor with the election of Eitan Ginzburg.
The move came as Jerusalem prepared for its annual Gay Pride celebrations, which took place Thursday in Jerusalem.
The main group opposing the event was the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which remains silent about serial human rights violators and instead condemns the only safe haven for homosexuals in the region, accusing it of “pinkwashing.”
Israel is the only country in the Middle East that recognizes LGBTQ rights and where any person, regardless of sexual orientation, can freely live. The country has signed the UN’s Gay Rights Protection Resolution and recognizes a domestic partnership of same-sex couples.
In most countries in the Middle East, homosexuality either is a crime punishable by death, such as Iran and Yemen, or carries long jail sentences, including in the West Bank and Qatar. Homosexuals are also at risks of violence, torture, and “honor killings” by militias or even their own families.
Iran is one of the worst places in the world to be homosexual. Human rights groups estimate that between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual preference since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
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