The National Union of Israeli Students on Wednesday called on the government and authorities to act to ensure equal rights for the LGBT community.

A meeting held last Thursday at the Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee with the participation of all chairmen from student associations of higher education institutions in the country voted unanimously to actively join the struggle for LGBT rights.

“The historic role of the student body is to lead to social change and in particular struggles concerning basic civil rights. Members of the gay community still live as second- class citizens in Israel and we will not accept it. The NUIS has taken an unprecedented bold step and places itself in line alongside all citizens of Israel regardless of religion, race, gender and sexual orientation,” said Ori Reshtick, chairman of the NUIS.

As part of its new commitment, the student union petitioned the director-general of Kinneret College and, as of Wednesday, all same-sex couples will receive the same benefits available to heterosexual couples on campus.

In a position paper published on Wednesday, the NUIS called on the government and members of Knesset to ensure that LGBT couples enjoy the same rights regarding individual and familial statuses.

“The student union believes that every person has the natural right to life with dignity, as an equal human in society. By virtue of this right it is the obligation of the state to grant any person full rights and benefits as prescribed by law and to protect their body and life, and it is not allowed to discriminate between citizens on the basis of religion, gender, race or on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or any other characteristic,” the paper stated.

The NUIS called on Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and the police not to forgive crimes committed against the LGBT community.

“Violence against members of the gay community is too widespread, and the response from the Israeli police and the judicial system is partial at best, when crimes against the gay community are not defined as hate crimes and the perpetrators receive reduced penalties,” the paper read.

The NUIS called on Education Minister Shai Piron to emphasize recognition, tolerance and acceptance of sexual identities and gender diversity in the national curricula and improve educational counseling and the attention of teachers to identifying and dealing with these sensitive issues.

During the meeting, the union decided to support LGBT organizations, activities and legislative initiatives. The organization agreed to take part in Gay Pride Month events, including participation in gay pride parades across the country.

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