Israeli teens can choose between military and gay rights groups

Israeli teenagers opting not to serve in the military now can serve the gay community instead.

BY

February 28 2006 1:00 AM ET

Israeli teenagers
are required to serve in the nation's military. But
they can seek an exemption for various reasons and sign up
for a national service agency instead, a popular
option for among women in the religious population.

Now those seeking
the exemption can volunteer for national service
through the Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and
Transgenders in Israel (Aguda), reports the news Web
site Ynet. The special volunteering scheme has been
made possible through an agreement signed between Aguda
representatives and the Shlomit Association, which helps
girls who were discharged from the army but want to
volunteer for national service.

“It is a
breakthrough in relations between the institutions and the
community,” Aguda CEO Gil Feldstein said. “We
are happy to be yet again in the front line of the
struggle for social equality. The Aguda will be happy
to allow teenagers to contribute to the community and the
state through national service with us."

The agreement
between the Aguda and Shlomit was signed after years of
attempts by the Aguda to receive official recognition that
would allow it to recruit volunteers. Yaniv Weisman,
head of Go Gay, an organization for gay youths,
welcomed the new agreement. “The youth organization
welcomes every initiative that benefits the community
and will continue to work for the gay youth community
using the help of professionals who volunteered in 30
groups across Israel,” he told Ynet. (Advocate.com)

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