Homosexuality and the Israel Defense Forces: Did Lifting the Gay Ban Undermine Military Performance?


Belkin, Aaron, and Melissa Levitt. 2001. "Homosexuality and the Israel Defense Forces: Did Lifting the Gay Ban Undermine Military Performance?" Armed Forces & Society 27 (4): 541-65.

Authors: Aaron Belkin, Melissa Levitt


In this article we argue that Israel's 1993 decision to lift its gay ban did not influence military performance. Then we assess three arguments raised by experts who claim that Israeli experiences are not relevant for determining what would happen if the U.S. Congress and Pentagon lifted the American gay ban. In particular, we assess the arguments that most gay Israeli combat soldiers do not disclose their sexuality to peers, that some receive special treatment, and that cultural differences distinguish the U.S. and Israeli cases. We agree with each argument, but our interpretation of them differs from experts who believe that Israeli military experiences are irrelevant. While no single case study can show decisively what would happen if the U.S. changed its policy, we suggest that the Israeli experience lends some weight to the claim that American military effectiveness would not decline if known homosexuals were allowed to serve.

Keywords: Israel, homosexuality, sexuality, military

Topics: LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexuality Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 2001

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