Tel Aviv, Israel:
His special forces reservist partner was killed in the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, two weeks before their planned gay wedding.
But although same-sex marriage is not officially recognized in Israel, Omer Ohana has since given the partners of gay soldiers the same rights to widow’s pensions as married couples.
His partner Sagi Golan was murdered on the night of October 7 in the Beeri kibbutz.
As a reserve captain in Lotar’s anti-terrorism unit, he decided to go to Beeri, one of the worst-hit locations, 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the south, when they heard of the attacks.
The 30-year-old “jumped out of bed and after a minute or two he was already in his uniform,” Ohana said.
“I made him coffee to take with him, and we kissed,” Ohana said. “I told him not to be a hero.”
They agreed to send each other a heart every hour via WhatsApp to let each other know that “everything is okay”. Ohana said. “At midnight I got the last heart from Sagi.”
Only religious marriages are registered in Israel, although the state recognizes same-sex marriages formalized abroad.
The two reservists had lived together for six years and planned to “get married” later in October before honeymooning in Costa Rica.
It would have been “more of a party with a ceremony,” Ohana told AFP at his apartment in central Israel.
Instead, the cotton flowers, intended as decorations for the celebration, were used in a funeral wreath for Golan.
Ohana, 28, was also mobilized, but for the northern front on the border with Lebanon.
In the days that followed, he tried in vain to get information about the Golan, until military officers knocked on his door on the night of October 10.
“They didn’t have to say anything. It was very clear,” he said.
Golan had been killed in Beeri after “bringing Israeli families out of shelters” and then “called to evacuate a team under fire,” Ohana said, sobbing.
Golan was shot in the chest and “was already dead” when his body was found two hours later.
“I just hope he didn’t experience the pain, that it happened quickly.”
A devastated Ohana had to face its own battle with the military bureaucracy.
Initially, he had difficulty receiving financial, medical and psychological support from the state.
One officer “didn’t recognize me as Sagi’s partner,” he said.
Ohana demanded that his rights as a partner be enshrined in law.
In a country where sexual minorities have gained visibility and expanded their rights in recent decades, Ohana said he and Golan “have never experienced discrimination.”
“But we are still not equal in life,” he said bitterly.
Following a public outcry, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, amended the law on November 6 to provide widow’s benefits to all partners of dead soldiers in common-law relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual, rather than limiting state aid to widows and widowers. of married soldiers.
Partners of hostages or disappeared people can also receive the benefit regardless of their gender, said lawmaker Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu of the centrist Yesh Atid party, who proposed the amendment and hailed it as “an important step towards equality.”
Ohana has received “thousands of messages of support” and believes Israelis are “very united” since the October 7 attack that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
In retaliation, Israel declared it would destroy Hamas and has ruthlessly bombed the besieged Palestinian area.
According to Hamas, at least 13,000 people have been killed in airstrikes and ground fighting in Gaza, mostly civilians.
Ohana’s fight is not over: he now plans to campaign for “a bundle of eight laws” that, once passed, will “achieve absolute equality in Israel” for LGBTQ people.
One right that gay couples in Israel have enjoyed as of 2021 is surrogacy, and Ohana said he would do everything he could to enable Golan – whose sperm was frozen – to become a parent posthumously.
“Sagi’s dream was to become a father,” he said. “And now my mission is to make this dream come true.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)