Skip to main content

Home News News World

Eurovision winner Netta: ‘It’s absurd gay people in Israel don’t have equal rights’

The 'Toy' singer talks LGBTQ equality in Attitude's June issue ahead of this year's competition.

By Will Stroude

Words: Will Stroude

Israeli Eurovision champion Netta Barzilai says it is “absurd” that LGBTQ people still do not have equal rights in her home country.

The 26-year-old singer, who claimed victory for Israel in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest with her empowering anthem’Toy’, says the Israeli govermnent isn’t moving “fast enough” when it comes to LGBTQ equality.

“It’s absurd that gays here don’t have the same rights as I do. It’s crazy that I can start a family with whomever I want, and they can’t,” Netta says in Attitude’s June issue, available to download and to order globally now.

“We’re obligated to pay taxes, we all have to serve in the army, but the government doesn’t treat us equally.

“It’s good to see we’re making progress, that we’re moving forward, but it’s not fast enough.”

Israel has a mixed record when it comes to gay rights: Despite boasting some of the most progressive gay rights laws in the Middle East and Asia, the country on the Mediterranean coast is yet introduce marriage equality, and gay couples have until recently faced strict barriers on adoption.

Despite a 2008 court ruling legalising adoption by same-sex couples, children have only been eligible to be adopted as a ‘last resort’ if no other mixed-sex couple can be found – something the government indicated it would change in 2017.

“When you weaken someone, when you tell them they’re not worth as much as someone else, it takes time for them to bounce back and start believing in themselves again,” Netta tells Attitude on location in Tel Aviv, where theis year’s Eurovision Song Contest will take place later this month.

Photography: Eran Levi

Tel Aviv has a thriving LGBTQ scene and the annual Pride parade sees hundreds of thousands take to the streets to celebrate the LGBTQ community – but Netta says many gay people across Israel still struggle to be accepted.

“I think a lot of gay men are scared to come out because they feel that they are inferior”, she says.

“We should use our power on social media to constantly bring this discussion out in the open, and make Pride parades even bigger. Yes, you see some families visiting Tel Aviv Pride but it’s not enough.

“Gay pride should be a national holiday, not just a party. We should always strive to get more people involved.”

Read Netta’s full interview in Attitude’s June issue, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: three issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.