A gay couple from Kiryat Haim was stopped and fined at a police checkpoint on Saturday night on their way back from helping one of their mothers, an elderly woman, after the police officer at the checkpoint expressed disbelief that they were a couple, according to N12 news.
Yigal Ohayon and his partner, Shai-El Atias, had visited Ohayon's mother after she called her son and told him she wasn't feeling well and needed help. The two were on the way back from her home when they were stopped.
"The officer asked us where we had been and what we were doing, and I explained to him that we had traveled together because my mother is a relatively large woman and I can't take care of her on my own," Ohayon told N12.
While many Israelis have used such reasons as excuses without them being true, the officer didn't argue with them on the reason and instead began to argue with them over the fact that they said they were a couple.
"After we were asked why we were together, we said that we were a couple. They responded: 'What do you mean?' and we asked if he'd never heard of gay men and if he was dismissing the fact that we're a couple. So the second officer joined and they had a conversation between themselves about us," said Ohayon, according to N12.
"The officer said 'No way. There's no such thing. It doesn't make sense that there's such a thing.' We offered to call my mother so that she could confirm that we left from her, but he wasn't even looking us in the eyes," Ohayon said. "We called her but he ignored us and didn't listen to a word we said."
According to Health Ministry regulations, people can travel more than a kilometer from their residence during the lockdown if they need to provide medical aid to a family member. Nevertheless, the officers fined Ohayon and Atias NIS 500 each and warned them that if they didn't move their vehicle they would receive another fine for disrupting traffic.
Later on, the two were stopped again at another checkpoint, but when they told the reason that they were out of their residence, the officers let them continue on their way without any issues.
"Where is common sense and humanity? For us I do not worry about it because, thank God, there is a court. But officer, how can you sleep at night and look at yourself in the mirror? To dismiss human beings like this and decide what love is and whether it is worthy love," wrote the couple on Facebook after the incident.
"He spoke to me contemptuously and was not ashamed to hide it. For years I have not encountered such a level of homophobia," said Ohayon, according to N12. "After five years together he has dismissed our relationship and who we are," he said. "Just because he's a homophobe we got two fines. I'm not going to give up and I'll go all the way with this cop's behavior. It's not that all cops are homophobic, but it's time to put an end to racism and homophobia, certainly when it comes to law enforcement."
While the couple posted videos from the incident, no homophobic statements by the police were recorded in the videos. The police declined to share body camera footage with N12 and stated that "if wrong things are written, we will not hesitate to take out the documentation."
"We stand by Shai-El and Yigal and anyone who has experienced LGBTQphobia," said Ohad Hezki, director-general of the Agudah - The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel."Israel Police must disclose the documentation of the incident from the police's body cameras and investigate the case properly," he said. "We will not tolerate any harm, discrimination or hatred on the part of police officers, whose job is to be an address for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community, not create it. We ask anyone who has experienced LGBTQphobia to report it to us so we can help and stop the hatred."