Israeli Ministry Refuses to Relocate Gay Tenant Despite Years of Homophobic Harassment

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The Housing and Construction Ministry has refused a request by a gay man living in public housing in the north to move to a different city, on the grounds that he is being harassed in his current location for his sexual preferences.

“I’m afraid that someone is going to hurt me in the end,” the 46-year-old man, who does not want to be identified, told Haaretz. “My life has been hell. I barely leave the house, don’t sleep at night and am living in constant fear. I’ve been begging the Housing Ministry to give me an apartment in a different city, where they’ll accept me as I am.”

He said the harassment and threats began several years ago, when he was living in a different neighborhood in the same city. People living in his vicinity began harassing him because he was gay, he said, including damaging the door of his apartment. The man asked the Housing Ministry to find him an apartment in a different neighborhood, which was done.

After a few months, however, his abusers managed to track him down at his new address and the harassment continued, the man said. “They’ve thrown paint at my door, jammed sticks into the lock and even cut off my electricity. Aside from the pain and fear, I’ve had to spend a lot of money on repairs.”

The man said his harassers have also spread the word about his homosexuality, as a result of which people in the neighborhood tease him, and the harassers have also asked local business owners to stop serving him. He has filed a complaint with the police, but they haven’t arrested anyone. “I want to live in the center of the country, where people will accept me,” he said.

MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) wrote to Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, asking that he instruct ministry employees to aid the complainant.

“It’s strange that no consideration is being give to the applicant, who is suffering prolonged harassment due to his sexual orientation,” Gilon wrote. “I’m asking for flexibility and consideration for the unbearable situation of the applicant, who is being forced to live in constant fear through no fault of his own. I request that he be allocated an apartment in a different part of the country as soon as possible, before even more serious harm comes to him or to his apartment.”

The Housing Ministry said that the man’s request for an alternative apartment was rejected by an exceptions committee “because his housing meets standards, and in light of the shortage of apartments in the cities he asked for (Haifa, Ramat Gan, Petah Tivka). The ministry has a procedure for dealing with disputes among neighbors and our district office will work through a mediation center to mediate between all the parties to resolve the problem.”

Inrom Construction Industries looks likely to cash in from increased construction of new housing units.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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