Twenty-five members of the Knesset (parliament) voted in favor of the bill, and only two opposed on March 11, reports lgbtqnation.com.
The bill’s sponsor, Member of Knesset (MK) Dov Khenin of the Hadash Party, said it was the first law in Israel law to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
“[From now] … in every school the right of LGBT youth to be equal students appears black and white,” Khenin said. “But this law is there to protect not only LGBT students, but is there to protect us all. “If youth today are experiencing verbal abuse in schools, then physical violence against the [LGBT] community could become everyday reality.”
“Approval of the bill sends a clear message: We want to live in a society where we all have equal rights, and it is the responsibility of us all to fight for this cause,” he added.
Research by Israel’s Gay Youth Organization (IGY), which was given to MKs in support of voting for the law, indicated that 52 percent of LGBT youth in Israel have been were exposed to hate speech, and 84 percent reported the Hebrew equivalent of the words “gay” or “lesbian” were frequently used as slurs.
Alongside verbal violence, a quarter of LGBT youth reported sexual harassment at school, one in ten experienced physical violence, and 47 percent of LGBT students complained that teachers did not respond or take action against such verbal violence, and nearly a quarter (23 percent) said teachers themselves used such hate speech, lgbtqnation.com reported.
Shai Doitsh, chair of HaAguda, Israel’s main LGBT advocacy group, told LGBTQ Nation: “The passing of this law is an important and happy landmark. After years of legislative struggle we have the first law that outlaws discrimination on the basis of gender identity.”
Doitsh said he hope “it will be the first of many to come from the Knesset along our struggle for full equality in Israel.”
Same-sex sexual activity was legalized by Israel in 1988 and employment discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation were prohibited in 1992 but as elsewhere in Asia social discrimination against the LGBT community does persist. Homosexuality is somewhat stigmatized and considered strange and same sex marriages cannot be performed in the country.