MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), April 30, 2012.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) April 30, 2012. Photo by Emil Salman
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A draft bill to prohibit all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation failed in a preliminary Knesset vote, 25-9, on Wednesday. The law's passage was considered a long-shot after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted against it, thus prohibiting all cabinet ministers from giving it their support. Kadima and Atzmaut ministers walked out before the vote to avoid having to vote no.

The bill, submitted by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz ), the Knesset's only openly gay member, would amend all existing anti-discrimination laws in Israel to include sexual orientation. Its passage, Horowitz said on Wednesday before the vote, was important because it would "save us from having to amend each law separately."

The amendment was first submitted to the ministerial committee on February 21 but was not voted on until nearly a month later, when it was rejected. Among the cabinet ministers who voted against the bill were Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Minister without Portfolio Meshulam Nahari and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz. Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin and Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor were among the amendment's supporters.

Agriculture Minister Orit Noked appealed the decision. After two postponements the Ministerial Committee for Legislation was to have deliberated on the appeal a number of weeks ago, but the item was not raised during the appointed session.

According to Horowitz, after the Prime Minister's Office learned that the bill was likely to be approved by the committee, Noked was asked not to raise the issue in the committee meeting "so as not to destabilize the coalition and annoy the Haredim." In the end, the appeal was not raised in the meeting.