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LGBT Youth Center Murders Ignite Wave of Activism in Tel Aviv & On The Web

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rsz_tel_avivA masked gunman opened fire on the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association -- an  LGBT youth center -- on Saturday, killing three people and wounding ten others. The suspect remains at large.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that two of those killed have been identified as Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Trobishi, 16. The third victim is reported to have later died in a Tel Aviv hospital and has yet to be identified.

The New York Times quotes Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, as saying that the crime had “homophobic motives.”

The NY Times went on to note that “in the past, swastikas had been painted at the entrance to the center.”

Homophobia does not seem to be rampant in Tel Aviv, however. The Associated Press illustrated Israel’s acceptance for its LGBT citizens in an article published on Sunday:

Israel’s gays and lesbians typically enjoy freedoms similar to those of gays in European countries. Gay soldiers serve openly in the military, and openly gay musicians and actors are among the country’s most popular. Tel Aviv holds a festive annual gay parade, rainbow flags are often seen flying from apartment windows and there is a city-funded open house for the community

Israel’s Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s acceptance of LGBT people, saying “We are a tolerant, democratic country governed by the rule of law, and we must respect each and every person.”

In response to the vicious attack, LGBT Israelis are reigniting a sense of activism for their community and refuse to be intimidated. The AP reported that “thousands took to the street in an impromptu march after Saturday night’s attack to mourn for the victims and call for tolerance. Other demonstrations were planned Sunday in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other Israeli cities.”

Blogger Joe Jervis posted a video on his blog, Joe.My.God, in which an Israeli protester is heard reflecting on his renewed sense of pride:

I came here to show my support for those who live in the proud gay community and are grieving over their dead. I hope that this terrible day will also give you strength and mark a turning point. This day should give children the strength to tell their parents 'I'm gay'. This day should give parents the strength to love their children for who they are. This day should give the strength to make a change within Israeli society, so that it will be proud of its gay community.

Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai, affirmed that the city will not waver in its acceptance of LGBT citizens and vowed that Tel Aviv will continue to “maintain its pluralistic nature.”

Vigils are now scheduled worldwide to honor the victims of the attack. Twitter users are spreading the word about vigils in London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Manchester, and many other cities across the globe.

New York City’s City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn has called on fellow New Yorkers to join her in remembering victims on Wednesday at the synagogue of the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.

The search for the shooter will continue and Israeli authorities have vowed to prosecute the suspect to the full extent of the law.

GLAAD will continue to monitor coverage on the anti-LGBT shooting in Tel Aviv.

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