Thousands of gay tourists came to Israel this year.
During this time, Israel is well known as a destination of religious tourism. But in the last five years, the Land Promised by God according to the Jews, became attraction for gay.
According to Yaniv Poria, profesor in the department of hotel and tourism management at Ben Gurion University, almost every high-end hotel in Israel has a so-called “specially beach” exclusive for gay couples.
Like the Hassidic beach in Tel Aviv. Part of that beach managed by Hilton Hotel divided by an eight-foot concrete wall. Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are women’s bathing days. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays belong to men.
This regulation based on the halachic, Jewish law, prohibition on unmarried members of the opposite sex seeing one another in immodest dress. At the beach directly adjcent to the walled compund, every day is men’s bathing, include gay.
It’s not surprisingly. Because, according to Poria, the government supported gay tourism that called “pink dollars” industry. “Like other countries, the government has turned over marketing to the local level or taken or taken it underground,” says Poria.
Therefore, gay tourists to Israel have increased. Shai Doitsh, head of the gay tourism department at Agudah, Israel’s Association of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexuals, and Transgenders, says that thousands of gay tourists – both independent and groups – have come to Israel this year. Five years ago, the numbers were in the hundreds. A decade ago there was virtually no market at all, he says.
Israel’s homosexual-friendly laws are senn as another factor for its appeal for gay tourists. Israel Supreme Court decriminalized sodomy 20 years ago. Gays can openly serve in the army, inherit their spouse’s property, and be registered by the government as married. As of this year, gay couples are allowed to adopt children.
Off course, the increasing of gay tourists to Israel has worried ultraorthodox Jewish groups. Last year, they forced the Tourism Ministry to stop a campaign to promote gay tourism. At the time, dozens of orthodox threatened to topple the government. “Those who fail to recognize Jerusalem’s holiness should stay away from it,” Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai from the ultrareligious Shas Party said.
Christian Science Monitor/Islam Online/Faisal Assegaf