Israeli Supreme Court judges ruled this week that Jerusalem discriminated against the city’s homosexual community by refusing to provide funding for a homosexual drop-in center and ordered the municipality to give the Open House Center for Pride and Tolerance $120,000.
According to YNet News, Justices Esther Hayut, Hanan Melcer, and Isaac Amit wrote in their verdict that the municipality must expand funding for community centers without discriminating against the homosexual community and other minority groups, noting that the homosexual Open House Center has been applying for funding since 2003.
The Open House Center did receive limited funding from 2003 to 2005 but the municipal government rejected further funding in 2005 when the Jerusalem city council cancelled that year’s fourth annual “gay pride” parade, citing the fear that the march, organized by the Center, would offend Jewish, Muslim and Christian residents of the holy city.
The Jerusalem city council decided, “it is not right to allow the march or other planned activities to take place in the streets of Jerusalem, fearing that it will create an uproar, offend a wide sector of city residents and out of fear of public disturbances,” according to the letter sent by City Hall director general Eitan Meir to the organizers.
“The history of the relationship between the sides reveals that the appellant’s hand reaching out for support has met time and time again with the miserly hand of the municipality,” the Supreme Court judges wrote in their verdict.
“We cannot but express hope that the municipality will not behave stingily again and that the sides can shake hands without further involving the court.”
Justice Hayut added that the Jerusalem homosexual community should have the same special status it receives in other cities in Israel.
Justice Meltzer said the municipality was discriminating against the homosexual community under the guise of apparently objective criteria (presumably offending Jewish, Muslim and Christian residents of the holy city), conduct that “has no place in the 21st century.”
Justice Amit said that respect towards the homosexual community was one of the criteria for a democratic state, and what sets Israel apart from “most of the Mideast states near and far, in which members of the gay community are persecuted by the government and society.”
The director of the Open House for Pride and Tolerance, Yonatan Gher, said the Supreme Court’s decision marks a milestone for the city’s homosexuals.
“The authorities in Israel will no longer be able to ignore the gay community and treat it disrespectfully and with a lack of equality,” he said.