After the successful event, sponsored by A Wider Bridge, Aguda members Shai Doitsh and Natalie Sade are now being invited to other places in America. The Consulate General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region hosted Israel’s leading LGBT-equality organization in Philadelphia last week. Two representatives of The Aguda, the Israeli National LGBT Taskforce, discussed their work in Israel and abroad Jan. 11 with a host of local LGBT leaders, including Rep. Brian Sims (D-182nd Dist.), Mazzoni Center executive director Nurit Shein, businessman Mel Heifetz, Equality Forum executive director Malcolm Lazin, William Way LGBT Community Center executive director Chris Bartlett and attorney Abbe Fletman.
The Aguda was founded in 1975 by six individuals who were at the frontier of LGBT rights in Israel. According to chairperson Shai Doitsh, Israeli law has come a long way since that time in terms of LGBT rights.
“In 1975, the law in Israel was to criminalize gay sex. Although no one was ever arrested because of it, it was still illegal, which made it a very tough social problem,” Doitsh said.
Since its founding, the focus of The Aguda has changed tremendously, he added.
“The organization started as ‘GL’ to now ‘LGBTQ. We started as a human-rights and advocacy organization and realized that we needed to work in other fields to create a community like social services and legal aid.”
Doitsh considers The Aguda a “one-stop shop” for the LGBT community.