Record amount of LGBTQ-phobia cases reported in Israel in 2021

Almost 3,000 cases of LGBTQ-phobic hate and violence were reported in Israel last year, up 10% from 2020.

LGBTQ flag (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
LGBTQ flag
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Some 2,971 cases of LGBTQ-phobic hate and violence were reported in Israel in 2021, the highest number reported since the first report was issued for data collected in 2013, according to the ninth annual report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-phobia by the Nir Katz Center of Aguda-The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel.

The figure marks a 10% rise compared to 2020 and means that, on average, a case of LGBTQ-phobia is reported about every three hours.

Forty-three percent of the incidents took place within the victim’s family, more than 50% more than in 2020 (28%). The number of youth who were thrown out of their homes due to their LGBTQ+ identity also rose by about 41% compared to 2020, with about 444 such individuals moving to hostels.

The report theorized that the increase within the family sphere could be due to increased pressure felt as Israelis had to stay at home during the pandemic, and due to young people coming out of the closet at a younger age.

Over a third (34%) of all the incidents reported to the Aguda in 2021 targeted members of the transgender community, marking about a 50% rise compared to 2020. Despite Tel Aviv having a popular image as being safe for LGBTQ+ people, half of the incidents targeting transgender people took place in the Tel Aviv area.

Women's and LGBTQ organizations extremist parties as Israel's 24th Knesset is sworn in, April 6, 2021 (credit: THE AGUDAH – THE ASSOCIATION FOR LGBTQ EQUALITY IN ISRAEL)Women's and LGBTQ organizations extremist parties as Israel's 24th Knesset is sworn in, April 6, 2021 (credit: THE AGUDAH – THE ASSOCIATION FOR LGBTQ EQUALITY IN ISRAEL)

A little less than a third (29%) of the cases of transphobia took place within the healthcare system, followed by incidents within families (12%). A sharp increase was reported concerning LGBTQ-phobia in general in the healthcare system, where 7% of the cases took place, compared to less than 2% in 2020.

The LGBTQ prejudice experienced in the healthcare system included: prevention of receiving treatments due to a gender reassignment procedure, doctors who advise not to have sex between men, and therapists who perform conversion therapies.

In August, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz released a series of new policies to make the health system more accessible for the transgender community including increasing the number of sex reassignment surgeries and making such the surgery more available. Medical staff will also be trained to better interact with members of the LGBTQ+ community and their needs.

THE AGUDA report also marked a significant decrease in the percentage of reports from the Gush Dan region, amid the development of over 70 LGBTQ+ communities across the country. About More than a third (35.5%) of LGBTQ-phobic cases took place in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas, compared to 43% in 2020. About 15% of the cases took place in the Haifa area, about 10% took place in Beersheba and the South, 9% took place in the Jerusalem area and 4% took place in the Sharon region.

Additionally, the number of reports received in June, when “Pride month” is marked, was two-thirds 67% higher than the total average of reports received throughout the year. The cases included: pride flags being vandalized, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people looking to rent an apartment, stone-throwing and WhatsApp groups calling to harm LGBTQ+ people, among other acts of hate.

About 41% of all the LGBTQ+ people who reported incidents were between the ages of 19 and 39, 25% were between 31 and 40, 20% were ages 41 to 55, 10% were under 18 and 4% were over 56.

“This is a resounding warning light to the state and government in a situation where community members are subject to hatred and ongoing incitement for no reason other than due to their way of life,” said Hila Pe’er, chairwoman of the Aguda.

“In recent years, we have learned and strengthened as a community and we know clearly that as our struggle for security and equality progresses, so will the counter-movements increase the manifestations of incitement and violence against us,” added Pe’er.

“We are here to strive to change the harsh realities of life of our community members – anywhere and in any arena,” she said. “We cannot be erased from the public sphere, our security in the public sphere cannot be threatened and we will insist on the basic right of each and every one of us to personal security until there is an inclusive, accepting and tolerant reality here.”

The report was presented to Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev on Wednesday. Bar Lev thanked the Aguda for presenting the report to him, saying, “I am committed, and not just from today, to the struggle for equality and security of the members of the LGBTQ+ community in Israel. The LGBTQ+ community has an address and a home in the Public Security Ministry.

“Behind the hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ+ community are inciting and dark forces,” said Bar Lev. “We in the Public Security Ministry intend to lead an inter-ministerial round table to examine cases of violence, to uproot the roots of hatred and LGBTQ-phobia and to bring to justice those who think of threatening the freedom of each and every one to live according to their sexual orientation.”

Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen said in response to the report, “There is no justification that in 2022 people in the State of Israel will be afraid to love and live according to their desire. I am sometimes asked why we invest so much money, resources and attention for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community, and this report gives a clear answer.”