Researcher By Day, LGBT Activist By Night

A couple of weeks ago health and science magazines all over the world reported on a group of researchers from Beer Sheva’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who discovered that AAT protein can kill bacteria in patients with immune problems.

One of the names signed on this discovery is Ziv Kaner, a young researcher from Beer Sheva. Ziv works during the day in the laboratory of Dr. Eli Louis, whose work in recent years achieved a few breakthroughs in the treatment of diabetes.

In his spare time, Ziv is one of the prominent activists in Beer Sheva’s LGBT community, who recently helped launch “A Proud Home in Beer Sheva,” formerly known as the Aguda’s South Branch.

“The LGBT activities in Beer Sheva started in 2000 as a branch of The Aguda, the Israeli National Task Force,” Ziv explained to Israeli website GoGay. “The activity started from the bottom – as a joint request of young men and women for an actual place for meetings. Throughout the years the range of activity has been growing significantly, with dozens of people participating in our activities. Some of them who left the city continued to volunteer in LGBT organizations in other cities. Half a year ago the Aguda decided to release its branches across the country, and we took the opportunity to establish the Proud Home in Beer Sheva, an independent organization that is volunteer-based, as a tool to promote the LGBT community in the city, and to unite it.”

“The new organization is called ‘A Proud Home in Beer Sheva’ but frankly it provides a home to the entire community in the south. The south of Israel is the largest area in the country, and its biggest and most central city is Beer Sheva. There are lots of students from the Kibbutzim on the periphery, and also the cities that are relatively far, like Ashkelon, Arad, Dimona, and others.”

Creating a warm and inclusive environment, social involvement in the city’s structure, and connecting and providing answers to the variety of hues in the community – these are the main goals of the new organization, but Ziv admits that it might also have a political agenda. “Every social organization is somehow political,” Ziv says. “If our basic goal is to promote the LGBT community- this is a political goal. Having said that, we do not identify with any political party, and we believe that the fight for equal rights for the LGBT community should be cross-party.”

How tolerant is Beer Sheva towards LGBT people?

“Beer Sheva is a free and tolerant city, much more than people think. Unfortunately, we still face cases of LGBTphobia from time to time, but it’s no different than other places in the country. One of our goals is to work towards lowering the number of cases to zero.”

About the Author
Yanir Dekel has a decade of experience in entertainment, journalism, and digital media in Israel and the U.S. He headed PR for Helicon Records - one of the top two Record Labels in Israel - for several years before moving to LA in April of 2009. Yanir now works as an "Online Outreach" and content administration freelancer, managing content and social media, as well as providing graphics for online and print.
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