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A swath of country no bigger than 8,019 square miles or the size of the US state of New Jersey, this ancient land of milk and honey is characterized by a physically stunning and diverse geography, World Heritage architecture, elaborate gardens, beach resorts, a fine wine-producing region, a modern and tech-savvy metropolis, a holy capital and the highest number of museums per capita in the world.

Peppered throughout are also countless historical and religious sites, a testament to the desirability of this age-old destination, popular with travelers and transplants since Phoenician times. For much of its history, the territory has certainly had a nebulous geographical concept as the land bridge between North Africa and Asia and a complicated socio-political reality as a Holy Land to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but the land itself has a singular beauty and the people an overwhelming warmth, which is reflected in the country's progressiveness.

Created in 1948, the State of Israel inherited the Buggery Act of 1533 from the British Empire, passed during the reign of Henry VIII and England's first civil sodomy law. Although never specifically enforced in Israel, the ban on consensual same-sex was officially repealed in 1988. Israel has yet to allow gay couples to legally marry within its borders but does recognize same-sex marriages contracted abroad, and LGBTQs enjoy most of the same freedoms as heterosexuals in a society that has done well in integrating LGBTQ life.

LGBTQ citizens of Israel serve openly as judges, members of the Knesset and in the military. Dana International, an Israeli trans-woman and pop singer, famously won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998, the same year Tel Aviv inaugurated its annual Pride Parade that today draws over 100,000 participants from all over the world. Jerusalem has also held its annual pride since 2002, but the 2015 fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Shira Bank is a cautionary reminder of safety and security concerns.

6 community reviews / Israel

General impression