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August 24, 2011

IconGay Israeli soldiers report widespread abuse

A survey conducted by Israeli Gay Youth has indicated that over 40% of gay and lesbian soldiers in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) experience homophobic harassment.

20% of survey respondents also claimed to have been physically or sexually assaulted. 45% claimed that homophobic remarks were frequent within their units. This rose to 59% for soldiers serving in combat units.

The survey involved 364 individuals who were either current members of the IDF or discharged within the last year.

“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. 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,” stated a representative for Israeli Gay Youth.

“We will say that any claim of abuse in the IDF is dealt with appropriately,” an army spokesperson told Israeli daily Haaretz. “The IDF drafts all candidates who are suitable, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Israel has conscripted lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens into the IDF since 1993.

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Ruth Pearce

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