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Israel lifts MSM blood donor restrictions

A Wider Bridge celebrated ‘landmark moment’

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(Photo by Bigstock)

JERUSALEM — Israel on Thursday announced it will allow men who have sex with men to donate blood without restrictions.

The Associated Press reported Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who is openly gay, made the announcement.

“Today we removed the degrading and irrelevant questions in the blood donation questionnaire,” wrote Horowitz in his Facebook post. “Every blood donor who comes with the goal of saving a life will receive equal treatment, no matter what his gender or sexual orientation (is), whether he is LGBT or straight.”

A Wider Bridge — a U.S.-based organization that describes itself as “building a movement of LGBTQ people and allies with a strong interest in and commitment to supporting Israel and its LGBTQ communities” — welcomed the announcement.

“This is a landmark moment for the entire LGBTQ community in Israel and a step closer toward equality for everyone,” said A Wider Bridge on its Facebook page.

Israel is the latest country that has lifted restrictions for MSM who want to donate blood.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently allows MSM to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for three months. The FDA deferral period for MSM before April 2020 was a year.

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Middle East

Israel Health Ministry announces conversion therapy ban

Lawmakers must codify prohibition

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Knesset, gay news, Washington Blade
The Israeli Knesset (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

JERUSALEM — Israel’s openly gay health minister on Monday announced health care professionals can no longer practice so-called conversion therapy in the country.

“No one needs conversion,” said Nitzan Horowitz after the Israeli Health Ministry published the prohibition. “Lesbians, gay, trans and straight, you are just as good and beautiful as you are.”

A Wider Bridge, a U.S.-based organization that describes itself as “building a movement of LGBTQ people and allies with a strong interest in and commitment to supporting Israel and its LGBTQ communities,” in a statement notes “health professionals who engage in these abusive practices or refer patients for them will be subject to disciplinary proceedings that could result in their licenses being revoked.”

“Conversion therapies can cause lasting emotion harm to vulnerable LGBTQ individuals, sometimes with deadly results, said A Wider Bridge. “This is why many countries have imposed severe sanctions on those who commit this dangerous practice.”

A law that bans conversion therapy in Canada took effect last month. Brazil and Malta are among the handful of other countries that have prohibited the practice.

A Wider Bridge in its statement notes the Israeli Knesset still needs to codify the Health Ministry directive into law.

“We thank the Ministry of Health and applaud our friends in Israel who relentlessly fight against these horrible practices,” said A Wider Bridge.

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Middle East

U.S. condemns so-called honor killing of Trans Kurdish woman

Doski Azad’s brother shot her on Jan. 28

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Doski Azad (Photo via Instagram)

MANGESH, Iraq — The U.S. has condemned the so-called honor killing of a Transgender woman in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Media reports indicate Doski Azad’s brother, Chakdar Azad, murdered her in Mangesh, a village in Duhok province, on Jan. 28.

Authorities in the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq say Chakdar Azad had been living in Europe for several years until he returned to the region in December. Chakdar Azad reportedly shot his sister twice in the head and chest.

Doski Azad was 23 and a make-up artist.

“The United States notes with concern media reports that Doski Azad, a resident of Duhok, was the victim of a so-called ‘honor’ killing,” said the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, on Thursday in a statement. “We categorically condemn this violence and the discrimination that is undoubtedly at the root of this crime. We ask the authorities to thoroughly investigate this murder and prosecute the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law.”

The executive director of IraQueer, an organization that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ+ Iraqis, on Thursday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview that Doski Azad was well-known among the region’s Trans community.

IraQueer said Doski Azad’s relatives repeatedly threatened her because she was Trans. IraQueer told the Blade that her brother killed her because, in their mind, she had “degraded the males in her family.”

“It’s really frustrating what has happened,” IraQueer told the Blade. “I’m really sad.”

Kurdish authorities have issued a warrant for Chakdar Azad’s arrest, but he has reportedly fled the region.

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Middle East

Israel to allow surrogacy for same-sex couples, Transgender people

Country’s Supreme Court ordered policy change

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Knesset, gay news, Washington Blade
The Israeli Knesset (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government on Tuesday announced same-sex couples and Transgender people will now be able to have children via surrogate.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who is openly gay, discussed the new policy during a Jerusalem press briefing with Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash.

“Today we are making history,” said Horowitz.

The Israeli Supreme Court last July ruled the government must allow same-sex couples and single men to have a child via surrogate.

The ruling directed the government to act within six months. The new policy, which includes single men, will take effect on Jan. 11.

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