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The 2010 Israeli Supreme Court judgment in the matter of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, Jerusalem's LGBT community center, was a turning point in both its recognition of equality for the gay community and its adoption of the discourse that sets LGBT rights as signifying Israel as a liberal democracy and as distinguishing it from other states. This article explores LGBT rights politics in Israel and beyond, taking a critical look at the terms "homonormativity" and "homonationalism." Homonormativity has been described as neoliberal sexual politics that does not challenge the dominant heteronormative institutions and is anchored in domesticity and consumption. Homonationalism has been described as nationalist homonormativity, in whose framework "domesticated" homosexuals serve as ammunition for nationalism. The discussion of homonationalism highlights a process whereby the homosexual, rather than being viewed as a threat to the state and its security, has been transformed into someone who is perceived as integrated in the state and who distinguishes it from other states through its tolerance towards him. Homonormativity and homonationalism are preconditions for "pinkwashing". the use of LGBT rights for propaganda purposes. The article will argue for the need for non-reductive conceptions of the connection between homonationalism, homonormativity, and pinkwashing, as well as point to the contradictions between domesticity and consumption that exist within the notion of homonormativity. The slaying of two gay youths in a 2009 shooting attack at the Barnoar gay youth center in Tel Aviv was a turning point in LGBT rights politics in Israel. The reactions to this incident marked the rise of the new homonationalism alongside the intensification of criticism of this phenomenon, leading to divisive rifts amongst activists. This article examines the "deal" that was woven in the shadow of the Barnoar attack between the gay community establishment and the nationalist establishment and the ensuing crisis in queer politics. In response to the ascent of homonormativity and homonationalism, there was a strengthening of identity politics amongst the groups that are excluded from them, while the queer politics that challenged essentialist notions of identity fell into crisis. The queer idea was at times turned into simply one more identity ("Q") in the alphabet soup of identities, at the expense of its critical potential and effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-152
Number of pages72
JournalColumbia human rights law review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • IDENTITY politics
  • CIVIL rights
  • QUEER theory
  • ISRAEL. Bet ha-mishpat ha-elyon


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