Police Back Out of Delegation to Study Berlin Model of Tolerance

Delegation of Israeli gay youth and Tel Aviv municipal officials to meet with German group to study Berlin model against homophobic crimes.

Police officials announced Thursday they would not send representatives on a delegation to Germany alongside Israeli Gay youth and Tel Aviv municipality officials who will meet with representatives of a group that provides support for gay and bisexual men who have been victims of violence.

Tel Aviv gay youth center after deadly attack July 2009.

Tel Aviv's Gay Center expressed disappointment over the police's decision to withhold from the conference sponsored by Maneo, members of the Berlin police, German members of parliament and officials in the Berlin municipality.

Police told the Tel Aviv municipality that the issue was studied and a committee assigned to the decision decided against joining the delegation as the "funding party has not been approved by the police committee."

The police also said that they had considered funding the delegation, yet budget denied such an option.

A police official told Haaretz that the real reason for pulling out of the trip was that "police did not want to take part in a Gay delegation."

However, the official police statement mentioned that the criterion for approval of such a trip relies on "added value" which was decided in this particular instance to be "minor."
The purpose of the is to learn the Berlin model for preventing and dealing with anti-gay violence.

The Berlin model has been adopted by other European cities, like Barcelona, Steiner told Haaretz. It is based on cooperation between Maneo and the authorities, particularly the police, which has two liaison officers to the gay community to deal with homophobic crimes, he said.

Steiner said if the model is adopted in Israel, Hoshen, a group working to change stereotypes about homosexuality and bisexuality and that trains professionals in matters pertaining to the LGBT community, would take the role of Maneo.

"Perhaps if we had started the project a few years ago, we would have documented manifestations of homophobia by the killer, who has not yet been caught, in cooperation with the police, and we might have identified him before the murder. Homophobia, like all hatred, begins small," Steiner said.

The chief of the Berlin police has reportedly invited Israeli police officers to take part in the delegation, particularly the Tel Aviv district youth officer. The Israel Police said they have not yet received an official invitation.