Tel Aviv Has No Objection to 'Voluntary' Gender Segregation at Private Events

The city’s legal counsel defended his announcement that the city will be establishing a gender-segregated gym in Jaffa to 'make it accessible for all communities'

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Jaffa clock tower, 2019.
Jaffa clock tower, 2019. Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

The Tel Aviv municipality has no objection to “voluntary” gender segregation at private events, saying it should allow all people to adhere to their way of life, as long as they don’t do it in public spaces, said the city’s legal counsel Uzi Salman Monday.

Salman's comments were to defend his announcement that the city will be establishing a gym in Jaffa with one floor designated for workouts separated by gender, with each sex working out at different hours, according to Makor Rishon.

However, a source in city hall told Haaretz that Salman has it wrong: there were requests from the Muslim community to hold segregated workouts but no decision has been made.

Salman brought up the city’s plan at a conference on class action motions related to gender segregation.

“We are opening up a new gym to serve all the communities in Jaffa,” Salman said. “Muslim women said they wouldn’t come if men and women weren’t kept apart.” The city decided that one floor would be designated for both sexes and the second would allow segregation by time of day. “That will make it accessible for all the communities using it, and balance the city’s duty to provide services to a certain community,” Salman said.

In general the city does not intend to hold events in public space at which men and women are physically separated, Salman said at the conference, adding that public space includes city squares, public gardens and parks. There have been requests, especially after the “Messiah in the square” scandal, and all were rejected, he said.

The 'Messiah in the Square' event at Rabin square, Tel Aviv, 2018. Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen

Asked by Prof. Alon Clement if the segregated event at the Hangar in Tel Aviv port was acceptable to the municipality, Salman answered that as long as an event is confined to the ultra-Orthodox or Muslim community and is only for them, it is fine with the city.

The Tel Aviv municipality commented that Salman’s remarks were about a sports center for Jaffa residents. During the planning, the local community expressed various wishes and needs which the legal counsel deemed to be in compliance with the law. No final decision has been made, the city added.

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