SLAIN ISRAELI GAY ACTIVIST NIR KATZ WALKED WITH HIS HEAD HELD HIGH

The family of Nir Katz, the 26-year-old counselor killed in Saturday’s shooting attack in a Tel Aviv gay community center, has known tragedy in the past: His father, Rami, was killed in the first Tze’elim disaster when Nir was seven years old.

“Nir came out of the closet when he was 20, and since that moment wore the flag of gay pride on his sleeve, believed in what he was doing and always walked with his head held high,” his sister Chen told Army Radio Sunday.

<em>Nir Katz</em>

Nir Katz

The World Congress of GLBT Jews expressed condolences.

“In these very difficult moments know that we are feeling the tragic loss of young innocent lives and many injured people who were just looking for a safe and tranquil place to be themselves,” reported Refuah Shlemah, vice president of the World Congress of GLBT Jews.

“We condemn in the harshest terms this violent crime and call for all sectors of society in Israel, the Jewish and non Jewish world to realize there is still a long way to go before we get rid of homophobia and allow every indidual to be happy with who they are and who they love along with their families and communities.

“In my own name, in the name of Shalom Amigos and as Vice President of the World Congress of GLBT Jews Keshet Gaavá, please accept our most heartfelt condolences and may the injured find a speedy recovery.”

WORLD CONGRESS OF GLBT JEWS BORN 1979

Nir had recently completed his army service as a career officer and had started computer studies at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

Chen said her brother had been serving as a counselor at the center for several years and was there every Saturday to help teenagers come to terms with their sexual identity. “There are youths both in and out of the closet [at the center], and a dedicated counseling team. I was there with him several times. I spoke to the people…it’s a lovely place.”

She said her brother and the other counselors tried to make visitors to the center feel as comfortable as possible, “that they’re okay, [that they're] like everyone else, that it’s the most natural thing in the world.”

The immediate family of 17-year-old Liz Trubeshi, the second victim of the attack, remained in their home Sunday and asked to be left alone by the media. But some family members and friends did talk.

“This is very difficult for me,” Trubeshi’s aunt, Silvi Shalom, told Web site NRG. “Liz was a wonderful and beautiful child, with blue eyes… she was a little girl who hadn’t done anything to anybody.”

“She was the victim of an insane, crazy person, and we don’t know how to carry on,” Shalom said. “We just can’t grasp it.”

Shalom said she did not believe her niece had been involved with the gay and lesbian community. “I know she was just passing by and had no connection to that,” she said. Another family member told the Web site, “it’s important to me that you stress that she was only there by chance.”

“She was one of the most charming people [I know],” a friend told Ma’ariv. “She loved to write. She was very creative.” She also stated that Liz was not a lesbian.

“She didn’t have anything against it, on the contrary – she was very supportive and that’s why she was there,” she said. “there are a lot of straight people who come to show support.”

See Related: GAYS SLAIN IN TEL AVIV ARCHIVE

See Related: STRAIGHT PEOPLE NEED FALL SILENT WHEN WE SPEAK – SENTINEL OPINION

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