Orthodox parties demand legalization of gender segregation

Written by on November 20, 2022

The haredi United Torah Judaism party (UTJ) and the Religious Zionist Party (RZP) demanded as part of the ongoing coalition negotiations to legalize gender-segregation for the haredi and religious public, Yisrael Hayom reported on Sunday morning.

The demand is to enact legislation that says that segregation between men and women in public spaces, specifically cultural events for the haredi and religious public, academic studies and public services, not be considered illegal discrimination.

Israeli law currently prohibits gender segregation in public services and spaces, except in specific circumstances that meet a number of requisite criteria. These include a provision that not segregating will bar a specific group from participating; a preference that the segregation be voluntary and planned as such; and others.

The by UTJ and RZP is aimed at stopping the “legal hounding” of any form of segregation, according to Yisrael Hayom. It is not intended to enable segregation in the general public but only for the haredi and religious populaces, the report added.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid responded on Twitter, “While brave women in Iran are fighting for their rights, in Israel [RZP chairman MK Bezalel] Smotrich and the haredi-religious are trying to relegate women behind barriers and legalize segregation between men and women. Where is the Likud? Why are they silent? Here is not Iran,” Lapid wrote.

gender separation 311 (credit: Jeremy Sharon)

National Unity MK and former Religious Affairs Minister MK Matan Kahana responded to Lapid on Twitter, “There are populaces for whom gender-segregation is a way of life. Not to enable these populaces to hold gender-segregated events is simply coercion. No Israeli citizen needs to attend these events or study at an institution that includes such segregation. Whoever wants haredi integration into Israeli society cannot force his way of life on others,” Kahana wrote.

Leader of the Labor Party, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli wrote on Twitter, “There’s no such thing as separate but equal. We warned that a coalition without women would harm women, and they are already demanding that not only they, but also the law, will be able to push women to the back. Women are no less equal. Nobody has the right to decide for anyone else where they sit, what they wear or whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. This is the fight for our democracy,” Michaeli wrote.

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