Reports of anti-LGBT Incidents on the Rise in Israel, Task Force Says

The Aguda Association for LGBTQ Equality attributes the jump last year in reported incidents mainly to more complete reporting

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A student demonstration against Education Minister Peretz's remarks.
A student demonstration against Education Minister Peretz's remarks that his children are heterosexual because he raised them in a 'healthy and natural way.'Credit: Moti Milrod

The number of reported anti-LGBTQ incidents in Israel increased significantly in 2019, the Aguda Association for LGBTQ Equality said, adding that the surge appears to be the result mainly of more complete reporting of what has been happening in the country. 

The association’s Nir Katz Center fielded 2,125 claims of discrimination, hate or harm based on gender identity or sexual orientation last year, a 36 percent increase over 2018, when there were 1,557 reported incidents and 2017, when 533 cases were reported.

The Aguda said it was difficult to correlate the increased numbers with social or political changes, although anti-LGBTQ statements by public figures have been on the rise. Six percent of the complaints to the Aguda were also reported to the police.

According to the report regarding 2019, 39 percent of the incidents involved government institutions. They related primarily to the conduct of officials from the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority toward members of the LGBTQ community in connection with procedures such as registering marriages, gender changes, parenthood, the issuing of birth certificates or issues involving surrogacy abroad.

Last month, representatives of gay and lesbian organizations met for the first time with the director general of the population authority. The Aguda said he demonstrated a readiness to deal with the reported cases.

The 2019 Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem.Credit: Emil Salman

About 29 percent of the reported cases last year related to incidents within the family, including insults, humiliation, and on occasion even exclusion from the home and community. Fully 26 percent of the cases reported to the Aguda were from minors. 

The Aguda said 272 juveniles were forced to leave home last year due to anti-LGBTQ animosity. The worst case of violence involved a 16-year-old from Tamra who was stabbed by his brother, a case that is pending in Tel Aviv District Court. In another case, young people were attacked outside the Haoman 17 club in Tel Aviv.

About 5 percent of the incidents related to educational institutions – 25 percent of which were at institutions of higher education. In one case, a female student reported being shouted at for kissing her female partner. A social work student reported being told “I hope you marry a man.” Following that incident, a workshop was held at the school with representatives of the LGBTQ community.

Three percent of the reports related to the public statements, including three prominent cases: Education Minister Rafi Peretz’s comments in support of sexual orientation conversion, the Noam party’s anti-LGBTQ campaign and the Hazon movement’s campaign in Jerusalem around the slogan “Father and Mother = Family”. 

Following the Hazon campaign, there was a threefold increase in reports to the Nir Katz center compared to the month before, the Aguda said.

“LGBT-phobia kills and harms thousands of victims who are attacked physically and verbally, thrown out of home and pushed to the edge to the point of despair and suicide,” said Aguda chairwoman Hila Peer. 

“This reality doesn’t come out of nowhere. There are people choosing to feed it. It is bolstered by the education minister of the State of Israel seeking to convert a whole community," she said. "We see the ramifications of this incitement every day, in the hate and violence in the public domain, on social media, in workplaces, and even at government institutions. We cannot be eliminated from the public domain. We will defend the personal safety of the members of the community and continue to act for equality and freedom.”

The Population Authority said in response: “The Population and Immigration Authority deals with a range of populations and different communities. As a result, there is a readiness to hear, understand and consider addressing special needs within the law. The authority’s management has met with representatives of the LGBT community to find ways to work together, and we will continue to do so in the future.”

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