“Are there kids in Gaza whose parents are both daddies, like in our family?” our son Oren asked while we were sitting in the safe room in our Tel Aviv home, waiting for the sounds of the rocket explosions to stop.
No, we told him. In Gaza, there are no two-daddies or two-mommies families at all.
As a proud gay family with two daddies – Yuval and Yehuda (we own a travel blog with over 30,000 followers, where we share photos and articles from our global travels with leading news sites) and 11-year-old twins, Oren and Eliya – our son could not quite grasp that almost the only place in this part of the world where a family like ours can exist is Israel.
In fact, if any of us traveled to one of our neighboring countries, we would be either hanged or our skulls smashed with stones.
The fate of LGBTQ+ in Gaza
In Gaza, where the leaders of Hamas-ISIS use innocent civilians as human shields; in Syria, where dictator Bashar Assad did not hesitate to use chemical weapons on his own people; and in Iran, which orchestrates rape, torture, and murder – not only is homosexuality illegal, but it is also grounds for execution.
One of these victims is Ahmad Abu Marhia, who was beheaded in the West Bank because of his sexual orientation. In Iran, 6,000 LGBTQ+ community members have been executed since the Islamic revolution took place. Unlucky others in Arab countries have been imprisoned in a dungeon without access to food or water, tied up, whipped on their feet with a stick, and released on a pledge not to repeat their actions.
Yet, on another planet, LGBTQ+ organizations around the Western world publicly support Hamas-ISIS and claim Israel is a racist apartheid state. Not only do these organizations call for “Free Palestine,” but they also accuse Israel of “pinkwashing” – i.e., making cynical use of its relatively progressive gay rights to brand itself as an oasis of tolerance, while simultaneously demonizing Palestinians as backward and dangerous.
On our side, the Israeli LGBTQ+ community did not sit still. Shortly after the war began, it joined the national public diplomacy efforts targeting the global gay community. One of the better expressions of this effort is the Future for LGBTQ+, a volunteer-based organization of media and content professionals led by top figures in the fields of public relations and communication in Israel, including advertisers, creative individuals, spokespersons, public relations experts, and a long list of influencers from Israel and abroad.
“So what happens if you are a guy who wants to have kids with another guy?” asked our daughter.
“You come to Israel,” we answered.
The only refuge for the LGBTQ+ community in the Gaza Strip is Israel. The Jewish state provides them with asylum in a safe place where human rights can be practiced and where their sexual orientation will not lead to their death.
It is a place where they can dream and have a “two-daddies” family – with a couple of super-cute kids, like ours.
Learn more about Yuval & Yehuda’s travel content: @2flyingboys on Instagram.