The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, changed the law that gave state support only to widows and widowers of married soldiers and now grants the same rights to the concubines of gay soldiers, after Omer Ohana, the partner of a special forces reservist, was killed in the attack on October 7, two weeks before their gay “marriage”, which is not recognized in Israel, reports AFP.
Omer OhanaPhoto: GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP / Profimedia
From now on, “all cohabiting people”, gay and straight, can access the widow’s allowance, sums up Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu, an elected member of the centrist Yesh Atid party, who helped pass the amendment.
The partners of hostages or missing persons can also benefit, regardless of gender, from this support, according to the deputy, who welcomes “a major step on the path to equality”, notes News.ro.
This is the result of the struggle waged for several weeks by Omer Ohana, aged 28, after the death of his concubine, Sagi Golan.
The two reservists had been living together for six years and had planned to “marry” on October 20, after which they would go on their honeymoon in Costa Rica.
“It was more of a party with a ceremony,” Omer explains to AFP, in their apartment in Herzliya (center), because “same-sex partners cannot marry in Israel,” where only religious marriages are recognized.
A same-sex marriage concluded abroad can, however, be recognized there.
Sagi, aged 30, was killed on the night of October 7-8 in fighting in Kibbutz Beeri.
“We hugged and told him not to play the hero”
After the two men woke up and learned about the surprise attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, on the morning of October 7, the reserve captain from Lotar – an anti-terrorist unit – “jumped out of bed and within a minute or two he was in uniform”, recounts Omer.
There, 80 kilometers further south, the kibbutzim around the Gaza Strip are targeted by Hamas.
“I prepared a coffee for him on the way, we hugged. I told him not to make the hero”, he declares.
The two lovers decided to send “a heart on WhatsApp every hour, to tell each other that everything is fine”, declares Omer with a lost voice.
“At midnight I received the last heart. He didn’t answer on Sunday,” he says.
Mobilized, in turn, but on the northern front, at the border with Lebanon, Omer spent the following days moving mountains to obtain information, but in vain.
On the night of October 10 to 11, officers knocked on the door. “There was no need to speak. It was very clear,” he says.
“We are not always equal in life”
In Beeri, Sagi was killed after he “extracted families from their shelters” and provided help to “a unit targeted by gunfire”, recounts a crying Omer.
Hit in the chest, “he was already dead” when the unit recovered his body, two hours later.
Devastated, Omer is forced to face “bureaucratic” problems.
An officer “didn’t recognize me as Sagi’s partner”, he says. He asked the Tsahal for an explanation, and the respective officer was sanctioned.
In a country where sexual minorities have gained more and more visibility and rights in recent decades, Sagi and Omar have “never known discrimination”.
“But we are not always equal in life”, he notes bitterly.
Omer Ohana wants to fulfill Sagi’s dream of becoming a father
At the end of October, the Israeli press wrote that in full mourning, the widower had to fight with the administration to have the right to financial, psychological and medical support – provided by law.
In early November, the Knesset proved him right.
But his fight does not stop here. He wants to continue campaigning for “a set of eight laws” that, once adopted, “will guarantee absolute equality in Israel” to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT).
Omer Ohana has received “thousands of messages” of support and emphasizes that Israelis are “very united” since the attack on October 7, which resulted in 1,200 deaths, mainly civilians.
Israel has declared a war with the aim of “annihilating” Hamas, incessantly bombing the Gaza Strip.
At least 13,000 people were killed in these attacks, most of them civilians, according to the Hamas government.
Omer Ohana is currently clinging to Sagi’s “dream” of “becoming a father”, through a surrogate mother, authorized in Israel from 2021 in the case of same-sex couples.
Sagi’s sperm was frozen. He is gone, but his lover will do everything for him to have a child.