Judge says that when one’s religious beliefs conflict with a necessity to provide service to all, the latter value holds superior; minister slams decision.
By Jacob Magid
The Times of Israel (21.04.2020) – https://bit.ly/2VKwX7X – The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court ruled Tuesday that a local print shop must compensate an LGBT rights group after it refused to print its posters.
The Aguda Association for LGBT Equality in Israel filed a NIS 100,000 ($28,134) lawsuit against the business, Rainbow Color, three years ago after its owners refused service to the Ben Gurion University LGBT chapter.
“We do not deal with abomination materials. We are Jews!” the shop had said in response to the chapter’s request for an estimate on the posters.
Aguda argued that Rainbow Color had violated the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law Act passed by the Knesset in 2000.
Rainbow Color claimed that its owners, who are religious, are barred from providing assistance to offenders of religious law. In its defense, the owners added the rulings of two Orthodox rabbis who wrote that according to Jewish law the publication of such posters is prohibited.
Judge Orit Lipshitz rejected the defendant’s claim and ordered that it pay NIS 50,000 ($14,071), in addition to legal expenses.
“The court does not seek to enter into the consciousness of service providers… when it comes to their subjective opinions with regard to others,” Lipshitz wrote. “The legislature also does not seek to interfere with the freedom of religion and worship reserved for them as human beings.”
“When their beliefs conflict with a necessity of providing service to all in a public space, the last value holds superior,” she concluded.
Lauding the ruling, Aguda CEO Ohad Hizki said in a statement that, “it is unacceptable for a business that provides a public service to decide to discriminate against an entire population of Israeli society simply because of its sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“To this day, thousands of companies and community members suffer discrimination, hatred and violence just because of who they are. We applaud this clear and just ruling that prohibits unfair discrimination and [will] continue to fight for anyone and everyone to receive full equality of rights,” he added.
Menashe Yado, of the right-wing Honenu legal aid organization representing Rainbow Color, called the ruling a form of “secular coercion.”
“If in the State of Israel a religious Jew cannot run a business according to his lifestyle, [then] where can he? Every religious Jew knows that the people of Israel have managed to survive thousands of years [sic] thanks to the Torah teachings of Israel. The court has forgotten this or perhaps never learned this lesson,” Yado said in a statement.
Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich called the ruling “outrageous” and “secular coercion.”
“[The court] is forcing a religious and mitzvah-keeping man to act against his belief at his private business,” he said.
Smotrich has called himself a “proud homophobe” and was involved in organizing an anti-gay “Beast Parade” in Jerusalem in response to the capital’s annual Gay Pride parade.