LGBT flag on Jerusalem's King George Street, July 31, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Harassment of members of the LGBTQ community increased dramatically in 2018, with a 54% increase in reported incidents of homophobia, the Nir Katz Center revealed on Sunday in its annual report.
The report, delivered to President Reuven Rivlin for the first time this year, noted that an incident of harassment or abuse against members of the LGBTQ community occurs every ten hours in Israel on average, while posts on social media which include messages of hate towards the community appear online every four minutes.
In total, there were 821 incidents of harassment or abuse against the LGBTQ community, a huge jump from the 533 incidents reported in 2017.
“I received this report with great trepidation,” said Rivlin.
“Despite the fact that the issue has become more open than in the past, we must ensure that we speak out against every voice of hatred of this kind, of this background, and say out loud that we are not prepared to accept it as a society. Beit Hanassi is Israeli society’s open house, for all groups and societies that live here and you are, of course, an inseparable part of the society and that is why you are here today.”
Referring to the suicide Saturday night of a member of the transgender community, Chen added that the transgender community faces the most extreme violence in the LGBTQ community as a whole.
The Nir Katz Center report breaks down instances of harassment into eight categories, with 25% of incidents occurring in the public domain such as in the street and on public transport; 22% in the media – including on social media, 15% within the family; 13% at work; 8% by public officials such as MKs, local government officials and state-employed rabbis; 7% within the education system; 5% in the police and IDF; and 5% in government agencies such as the Interior Ministry and National Insurance branches.
The association noted that in light of these figures, it is apparent that incidents of LGBTQ harassment occur in every aspect of a person’s life, both public and private.
Examples of harassment and abuse at work include a refusal to address a person by their preferred gender pronoun, rejection of an employment application based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identification, and even being fired from a job based on those factors.
The association also noted rejection and verbal abuse within a person’s family, such as parents and grandparents who cut off contact with LGBTQ children, as well as children who sever contact with parents who come out of the closet.
One testimony referred to an incident in the IDF during a ceremony marking the completion of a combat medic’s course. An officer made a crude joke about one soldier to his comrade, saying he should not bend over since his presumably gay comrade was standing behind him.
In another instance, a female soldier was outed as a lesbian without her consent in front of the rest of her division.
The association also noted that due to a change in IDF policy, the Hoshen organization – which provides lectures on LGBTQ tolerance – is no longer able to brief soldiers in the IDF.
Chen Arieli, chairperson of the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel stressed that the biggest problem is the need to raise awareness to report such incidents, noting that the number of those reported is merely “a drop in the ocean” compared to the actual number of events.
“Only by raising consciousness and by dealing with incidents professionally can we improve our society,” said Arieli.