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- An Israeli government official told two gay fathers one of them had to state he was their children’s “mother” for documentation in order to register the kids for daycare.
- Israel’s government has faced criticism in the past for its handling of LGBTQ rights, despite being referred to by some as the most LGBTQ-friendly country in the Middle East.
- This phenomenon is referred to as “pinkwashing.”
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When husbands Guy Sadak Shoham and Chai Aviv Shoham tried to register their two-year-old twins for daycare, an Israeli government official told the couple that one of them had to state he was the twins’ mother for official documentation, according to Out.
“I understand that you are both fathers and understand that you both run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more the mother,” the official reportedly told them. “I am just asking for a written statement in your hand which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work, which works less than the father. Like a normal couple.”
Because the preschool program is subsidized by the government, the Shohams had to apply through an official process in order to get financial aid for their twins to attend. When the government official called to check their availability and fill out the proper documentation, she informed the couple that one of them had to state he was the mother on the written statement, according to Out.
What happened to the Shohams garnered pushback and anger from LGBTQ rights advocates, but this was not isolated incident.
Rather than an instance of individual homophobia, the government official said she was upholding a policy that the state had in place mandating that within a two-parent household, one parent must be categorized as “mother” and the other as “father.”
Israel’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs made a statement following the incident, issuing an apology to the couple and making a promise to “emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all.”
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What is ‘pinkwashing’?
While Israel has been referred to as the most LGBTQ-friendly country in the Middle East by some publications and its own government, it has faced criticism in the past for policies that could marginalize LGBTQ people – like the one that impacted the Shohams.
Israel has yet to legalize marriage equality, and same-sex couples are unable to utilize surrogacy programs. Human rights advocates have claimed that the country used the label of being LGBTQ-friendly as a way to ignore both the rights of LGBTQ people and commit other human rights violations.
This is a phenomenon referred to as “pinkwashing.”
Coined in the 1990s, pinkwashing was first used to describe companies using breast cancer awareness as a marketing tool to get consumers to buy products under the facade of donating a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer research.
But later in the 2000s, the term evolved to describe the phenomenon of countries and corporations using being “LGBTQ-friendly” to ignore human rights violations or sell products rather than support the LGBTQ community. This term has been specifically applied to Israel in the last decade in reference to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“Shame that even in 2019 discrimination against the gay community continues to exist in our government offices,” Ohad Haski, director of Israeli LGBTQ organization Aguda, told Ynet.