Judges say municipality discriminating against LGBT community,
order it to finance Open House center
By Aviad Glickman
After years of tense waiting, Jerusalem’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community will finally receive funding from the city’s municipality for its Open House center, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The court criticized the municipality for rejecting the Open House’s pleas for funds, and ruled that it must hand over a sum of $120,000.
In their verdict, the judges wrote that the Open House had been rejected time and again by the municipality and only after appealing to the administrative court did they receive limited funding in the years 2003-2005.
But the victory was short lived, as later the court rejected an appeal for funds in the years 2005-2007. That was when the organization decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Justices Esther Hayut, Hanan Melcer, and Isaac Amit wrote in their verdict that the municipality must expand funding for community centers in such a manner that it will include those of the LGBT community and others like it.
“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 judges wrote.
“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 gay community should be granted the special status it receives in other cities in Israel, which would guarantee that funding be provided for its activities.
Justice Meltzer said the municipality was discriminating against the community under the guise of apparently objective criteria, conduct that “has no place in the 21st century”.
Justice Amit stressed that proper behavior towards the gay community was one of the criteria for a democratic state, and what separates Israel from “most of the Mideast states near and far, in which members of the gay community are persecuted by the government and society”.
Amit mentioned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said that there were no homosexuals in his country despite a current plea for asylum in England by an Iranian homosexual who fears for his life.
“It seems that the lack of recognition for members of the gay community as a group that constitutes part of Jerusalem’s public sphere is what brings them time and again to the courts, as their cries go unheeded.”
Yonatan Gher, director of the Open House, said the Supreme Court’s decision would be remembered as one of the community’s great milestones. “The authorities in Israel will no longer be able to ignore the gay community and treat it disrespectfully and a lack of equality,” he said.
SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY