‘You’re not a family,’ gay couple and kids told while using family pass at park

Attendant at Nahal Yehudia nature reserve briefly bars entry to the five, who are eventually allowed inside after supervisor intervenes

Two people embrace as they march during the 21st annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in Jerusalem on June 1, 2023. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
Illustrative: Two people embrace as they march during the 21st annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in Jerusalem on June 1, 2023. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

A gay couple and their three children were briefly denied entry to a national park with their family pass on Saturday because they were deemed to “not be a family.”

The family was only allowed to enter the Nahal Yehudia reserve in the Golan Heights after the intervention of a supervisor, Channel 12 reported.

In a video of the interaction, a woman can be seen refusing to open the gate to the park. One of the men asks her, “Repeat that. Say that we are not a family.”

“You’re a family?” she asks. “Go speak to him,” she says, referring to the supervisor.

“When she told me that at the beginning I told her, ‘Don’t go down this road. We can argue about everything but not about this,’” Giora Shnitzer told Channel 12. “One of my girls felt very uncomfortable and asked that we go home, but I insisted.”

The couple noted that they’ve had a parks pass defining them as “a couple with three children” for seven years and never before had an issue.

“We’ve been to many nature reserves and beautiful places and it’s a shame that it happened this time. It really surprised us and was uncomfortable,” Shnitzer told Channel 12.

In response, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority apologized, calling it “an unfortunate isolated incident that does not represent the policies of the authority.”

The LGBTQ community has repeatedly voiced its concerns over the hardline coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which took power in late December, fearing that its plans to weaken the judiciary’s powers could leave their community members vulnerable to discrimination. Members of the coalition have also made homophobic remarks.

Saturday’s incident follows a series of discriminatory actions against LGBTQ community members.

On Friday, a man was beaten and hospitalized in Rehovot in a suspected homophobic attack.

Earlier this month, a group of soldiers in the southern city of Beersheba posted a video of a neighbor threatening to tear down their LGBTQ pride flag hanging outside their apartment.

In July, a vehicle carrying a stack of pride flags was set ablaze in the Tel Aviv suburb of Hod Hasharon.

In April, a group of right-wing activists tried to tear down a pride flag from a balcony in Tel Aviv, amid mass protests against the government’s judicial overhaul. A resident of the apartment told media outlets that it was the second time that week that passersby had tried to take down the flag.

Also that day, the slogan “Kahane lives” was graffitied on an external wall and window of the Tel Aviv LGBTQ Community Center. The phrase is a show of support for the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, a one-time member of Knesset and leader of the racist Kach party.

In a report published in March, the Aguda Association for LGBTQ Equality said it had recorded 3,300 incidents of hate against the LGBTQ community in 2022, an 11 percent increase compared to 2021.

The report did not provide details on the nature of those attacks. Nearly half the reported cases took place in Tel Aviv and the central Israel region. Close to 20 percent occurred in Jerusalem and surrounding areas, the report said.

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