Survey: Israel’s Gay and Lesbian Soldiers Harassed


A survey of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) suggests that as many as 40% of its gay and lesbian servicemembers have suffered some form of abuse relating to their sexual orientation.

The IDF has allowed openly gay servicemembers to serve since 1993 and also has strict anti-discrimination rules that cover sexual orientation. However, an Israeli Gay Youth survey based on a sample 364 gay and lesbian soldiers currently serving in the IDF or soldiers discharged over the past year suggests LGB servicemembers still face widespread verbal, physical and even sexual abuse.

From the Jerusalem Post:

According to the survey, 40 percent of the soldiers were verbally abused due to their sexual orientation and 20% claimed to have been physically or sexually assaulted.

“The IDF is known as one of the more enlightened militaries in the world which allows male and female soldiers who are not heterosexual to serve in its ranks,” the Israeli Gay Youth movement said in a statement.

“At the same time, the military needs to review the claims by these soldiers in order to better understand the climate in which they serve and how it affects their service.”

Furthermore, 45% of respondents reportedly said that homophobic remarks are frequent or very frequent in the units in which they served or currently serve, and those in combat units put the figure higher at 59%.

The study also appeared to show a fear of coming out in the IDF despite the military officially being welcoming to LGB servicemembers, with 63 percent of the sample saying they had come out in civilian life while on 32% said they had come out to fellow soldiers or their direct commander.

There is however a more positive aspect to this most recent survey.  The Israeli Gay Youth movement says that when compared to the last survey carried out in 2006, certain levels of harassment have decreased.

The IDF itself has said that because the IDF did not carry out this research it cannot comment on the data. However, a spokesperson for the IDF is quoted on as saying: ”We will say that any claim of abuse in the IDF is dealt with appropriately. The IDF drafts all candidates who are suitable, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Related Reading:

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Niv.


Lee H.
.7 years ago

Excellent points, Jay and Rob.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S7 years ago

Still way ahead of the US and light years ahead of any of the surrounding Muslim countries that would kill or imprison gay people, as Islam commands.

While Judaism has reformed & modernized, jettisoning all those ugly Mosaic stonings, Islam is still stuck in the 7th century and can't/won't reform or come into the scientific, modern world on the issue of human rights in general, & specifically human rights for people born with a different sexual orientation (just like at least 1500 other species of animals have).

So Bravo Israel for being officially tolerant & accepting & trying to root out bigotry of all kinds.

Thanks Steve. Now write an article contrasting Israel's policy toward LGBT people with its neighboring countries & the Palestinians that so many here are so bent on blindly supporting, tho they have no freedoms in any regard in comparison to Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East & the only country in that area to accept LGBT people as fellow humans. (Not to mention that Israel has freedom of religion even for Muslims who have desecrated the holiest site for Jews & built the Dome of the Rock/al-Aqsa mosque on top of it, refusing to even allow Jews to pray there, & the Jews have allowed this sacrilege to stand - very tolerant, & the Palestinians persecute their Christian minority as well as gay people).

Harold K.
Harold K7 years ago

The IDF have more pressing needs at the moment

Tim Cheung
Tim C7 years ago