Coalition MKs Amir Ohana and Meirav Ben Ari vote with the opposition in support of bill widening definition of discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; bill passed with slim majority.
The Knesset plenum approved in a preliminary reading on Wednesday an amendment to the Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law.
The bill, which was sponsored by MK Dov Henin (Joint List) and opposed by the coalition, passed in a 37-36 majority after two of the coalition’s members, MK Amir Ohana (Likud) and MK Meirav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) voted in favor, effectively enabling its passage.
The bill will now go to the Knesset’s House Committee for discussions.
Coalition Chairman David Amsalem claimed he had allowed coalition members to vote on the bill as they saw fit, and therefore it was not a violation of coalition discipline.
Under the amendment, wherever Israeli law refers to discrimination, it would also mean discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“In view of the changes that have occurred in Israeli law since 1992, and in view of the frequent attacks on the LGBT community owing to sexual orientation or gender identity in the form of discrimination and harassment, the time has come to amend the interpretation law beyond the legal meaning,” reads the explanation to the bill.
“This change could also have an educational and social impact. This bill proposes that wherever Israeli law refers to the prohibition of discrimination, it will include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Thus, there will be no need in the future to change each law individually.”
The bill seeks to expand the rules in current legislation so that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is forbidden on any current or future legislation, even if not explicitly stated.
“Discrimination is forbidden, human beings are different, but they are also equal,” MK Hanin said. “It is forbidden to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This is something that should be clear to anyone who wants to live in a proper society that respects human dignity. A few years ago, I passed a law banning such discrimination in the educational system; it is time to ban it from society as a whole.”
Meretz chairman MK Tamar Zandberg said, “As just as it is simple. It is unbelievable that the coalition tried to bring it down, but again we proved that a determined struggle wins.”