Anti-LGBTQ Incidents Doubled Over Past Year, Report Shows

On average, such an incident occurs every 10 hours

Members of Israel's LGBTQ community protest law on surrogacy rights that excludes gay men, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 31, 2018.
Tomer Appelbaum

Anti-LGBTQ incidents in Israel rose by 54 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to a report compiled by an LGBTQ taskforce. One such incident occurs every 10 hours and only 3 percent of those report the incident to the association, file a police report.

A quarter of the 1,557 complaints reported to the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel in 2018 happened in a public space (a street, neighborhood or on public transportation), 22 percent were on social media, 15 percent inside the family and 13 percent in the workplace.

The report did not note whether the increase was a result of a rise in incidents compared with the previous year or a rise in reporting.

A further 8 percent were anti-LGBTQ remarks by public figures (such as rabbis, city council members, or Knesset members). Seven percent of incidents were in a school or university setting and 5 percent were in the police or army. Another 5 percent of LGBTQ-phobic incidents took place in government agencies like the National Insurance Institute and the Interior Ministry. Incidents taking place in businesses and government agencies that give services to the public.

The incidents in question include ostracism, insults, refusal to hire, and refusal to accept a non-binary gender identity. Members of the LGBTQ community also reported being fired and not hired because of their sexual preference.

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Of all complaints regarding anti-LGBTQ incidents in the security forces, 75 percent were in the military. Among these is the case of a female soldier outed in front of her squad, soldiers entering the office of a gay soldier and tearing gay pride postcards placed on his desk, senior officers blocking the advancement of gay soldiers, as well as sexual harassment and lack of response to such cases by higherups.

Following a change in policy in the Israeli military, in 2018 Hoshen, a non-profit organization educating the public on LGBTQ issues, was no longer allowed to run workshops in military bases.

The report also noted a case in which kindergarten teachers refused to mediate when the child of a lesbian couple was harassed by fellow children. There were also reports of teachers who were hostile to representatives from Hoshen, who were invited to give sessions in a school, as well as a transgender man who said he suffered discrimination in a university dorm.

One of the reports came from a woman who said she was harassed at her place of work after she came out to one of her colleagues. "I'm a lesbian, I'm 18, I work at a clothing store," she said, adding: "I told one of my colleagues and since then she won't stop asking me invasive and disgusting questions like whether I'm attracted to my mother."

Forty-five percent of workplace discrimination were against cisgender men, while 37.5 percent were against members of the LGBTQ community.

A 14-year-old boy called the center and said the kids in his class ostracize him because of his gender. "I'm a pretty quiet kid. I'm trans. A girl from my class outed me and forces everyone to call me a creature. They are shunning me and harassing me. I have no one to talk to," he said. According to the report, 24 percent of the cases in the education system targeted the transgender community. 

In a joint statement, Chair of the Association Hen Arieli and Director Ohad Hizki said: “We are breaking the silence in reporting cases of LGBTQ phobia in all aspects of life. One of our most important tools of protest is bringing these cases to light. We will not be erased from the public sphere. We will protect this sphere and our personal safety and will continue to work unceasingly for equality."