Knesset Advances Bill Banning Discrimination Based On Gender Or Sexual Identity

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli lawmakers gave preliminary approval to a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legislation, an amendment to the Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law, would widen the scope of current anti-discrimination law.

The bill was approved on its first reading by a vote of 37 to 36. It now goes to the Knesset’s House Committee for discussion and amendment, and then must pass a second and third reading in the Knesset plenum to become law.

The legislation, which was sponsored by Knesset lawmakers Dov Henin of the Arab Joint List and Michal Rozin of Meretz, is not supported by the ruling government coalition. However, two members of the coalition voted for the legislation. Amir Ohana of the Likud Party, who is openly homosexual, and Merav Ben Ari of the Kulanu Party, who last year had a baby with a gay friend and is raising her by way of shared parenting both broke ranks and voted for the legislation.

Coalition chairman David Amsalem told the Times of Israel that he permitted the lawmakers to vote their conscience without fear of reprisal.

Under the amendment, wherever Israeli law refers to discrimination, it would automatically also be referring to 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,” according to the explanation accompanying bill, Ynet reported.

Meanwhile, a draft bill is circulating in the ruling coalition that would allow same-sex couples to adopt in Israel.

Under the proposed legislation, the requirement that only a couple made up of a man and a woman can adopt children would be dropped, Hadashot news reported.

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