A proposal prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual identity was submitted to the Knesset Wednesday as an addition to the Equal Employment Opportunities Law.
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MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) sponsored the bill following the National Labor Court’s ruling last week that the prohibition on discrimination in the existing law also applies to transgender individuals, although not relating to them specifically. Due to this omission, court rulings on the matter have so far not been clear-cut.
Similar proposals submitted in the previous Knesset were blocked. One bill, submitted by MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), was struck down in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation by Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid.
Yesh Atid’s leaders explained at the time that their faction chairman, MK Ofer Shelah, was advancing a more extensive proposal including a ban on discrimination against transgender people. The proposal was passed by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation in December 2013 and sent to the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, where it was stuck and never discussed.
Earlier, in 2012, former MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) submitted a bill that would amend all of Israel’s existing anti-discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination against people due to gender identity or sexual orientation. This bill was also struck down.
The explanatory notes to Rozin’s proposal say the bill wishes to prevent discrimination in work places on the basis of gender identity as well. The existing law does not specifically mention that the ban on discrimination also applies to people whose gender identity doesn’t always correspond to their original gender or sexual orientation. Many people feel that their biological gender does not correspond to the gender they are expected to belong to and their appearance or behavior reflect this discord. “These employees are subjected to harassment and discrimination due to their gender identity,” the notes say.
Rozin commended the Labor Court’s unprecedented ruling and said the ban on discrimination for gender identity should be enshrined in law.
“In my work I’ve encountered countless cases of discrimination against transgender people in work places,” she said. “This legislation must send a clear message to employees and employers that no one must be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity.”
The Knesset’s gay lobby, headed by MKs Rozin, Michaeli, Yael German (Yesh Atid) and Yoav Kish (Likud), will meet Thursday to discuss the problems transgender people face in the education system. President Reuven Rivlin is due to meet with members of the Israel Gay Youth (IGY) organization Thursday.