Israel military accused of publishing a ‘misleading’ pro-gay photo

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A photograph uploaded by Israel’s military on to its Facebook page, to celebrate its pro-gay stance, has been accused of being ‘misleading’ by a local newspaper.

To coincide with the Tel Aviv pride this year, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) uploaded a photograph of two male soldiers in uniform walking down a street, holding hands, on to its social networking page, with the caption: “It’s pride month. Did you know that the IDF treats all of its soldiers equally? Let’s see how many shares you can get for this photo.”

The Guardian reports that by noon today, it had been ‘liked’ almost 10,000 times, attracting nearly 1,500 comments.

However, the Times of Israel reports that the photograph was ‘misleading,’ as the two males in the photograph were not a couple, and that only one of them was gay. In fact, the news website claims, both men in the photograph actually serve in the IDF spokesperson’s office.

The IDF has released a statement saying that these accusations were irrelevant, as the truth of equal treatment of gay soldiers in Israel’s military was not questioned. “The photo reflects the IDF’s open-minded attitude towards soldiers of all sexual orientations,” the statement reads. “The IDF respects the privacy of the soldiers featured [in] the photograph, and will not comment on their identities.”

Israel has allowed openly gay soldiers to serve in the military since 1993, Britain since 1999, and the US only since late 2011, when the infamous ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ bill was finally repealed.

Last month, a mural in New York, which compared gay rights in Israel to its neighbours in the Middle East proved controversial, and described by some critics as ‘divisive.’