Obituary: Remembering Veteran Israeli LGBTQ Activist Yonatan Danielowitz

31 August 2022
Yonatan Danielowitz

Yonatan Danielowitz, one of Israel’s leading LGBTQ activists and a former chair of the Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force, has died aged 77. Danielowitz was a pioneer for equal rights for the LGBT community in Israel.

He is best remembered for his tenacious campaign in 1989 against El Al where he worked as a flight attendant, after the national airline refused to grant his partner the flight discount rights granted to the partners of heterosexual employees. He led others in a successful litigation effort which led to the Supreme Court ruling in his favor in 1994. The decision set a legal precedent that dealt a blow to discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, paved the way for gay couples to have equal rights in Israel, and established a new legal perspective on LGBTQ rights in Israel.

Danielowitz immigrated to Israel from South Africa in the 1960s and led some of the first-ever demonstrations in Israel for LGBTQ rights in the 1970s, when the community was heavily stigmatized. He became the chairman of Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force. He also founded Tehila, a mutual aid group in Israel for parents of LGBT people.

The Aguda said, “This morning we say goodbye to one of the pioneers of the LGBT struggle for equality in Israel. Yonatan, thank you for being there and fighting for all of us. We will always remember you for your determination, courage and big heart, which saw the ability of every person to be who they are, even when it was difficult and society did not accept us. We promise you that we will do everything to continue what you began until there is full equality of rights. We will be proud to always remember you.”