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US-born ex-MK Marcia Freedman, a pioneer of Israeli women’s rights, dies at 83

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Marcia Freedman, an Israeli lawmaker who was a pioneer of LGBTQ and women’s rights in the 1970s and initiated the first women’s shelter in the country, died on Tuesday at the age of 83.

The United States-born left-winger was also an earlier champion of the two-state solution, advocating recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

She divorced her husband in her late 30s and came out as the first known gay Knesset member. To this day, she is the only openly lesbian woman to have served in the Israeli parliament.

Born in 1938 in New Jersey, Freedman was active in the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. She came to Israel in 1967, helped found the Israeli feminist movement, and served as a Knesset member for the Ratz party (which merged into today’s left-wing Meretz party in the 1990s) between 1974 and 1977.

During that short time, Freedman raised a host of issues that had been sidelined at the time, including abortion rights, gay rights, rape, breast cancer and domestic violence.

In 1976, Freedman initiated the first-ever Knesset discussion of violence against women. Transcripts from the July discussion reported by the press show that many lawmakers at the time were entirely dismissive of the issue and even viewed the topic as humorous.

“What about the other issue, husbands who are battered by their wives?” quipped Mordechai Ben-Porat, while........

© The Times of Israel

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