JERUSALEM – A great victory for pluralism and civil rights came on Tuesday, September 14, 2010, as the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the City of Jerusalem must provide funding for the Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a prominent LGBT community center. The decision comes after years of discriminatory policies toward the Open House from the municipality.
The Court declared that the municipality must pay over $120,000 to the Open House to compensate for the funding that it refused to provide over the past several years.
As the LGBT community accounts for approximately 10 percent of the population in the city, the Court argued, the city is responsible for catering to its needs. The judges highlighted that unlike other cities in Israel, Jerusalem has not provided support for the LGBT community, despite the Open House’s constant petitions for funding.
The Israel Religious Action Center’s (IRAC) legal team, representing the Open House, argued that the center provides many essential services unique to the discriminated LGBT community in Jerusalem and that the city has the responsibility to provide support for all of its residents, regardless of sexual orientation.
The City of Jerusalem provides funding for many community centers. Since 2002, the Open House applied repeatedly to receive municipal funding to which they were entitled but were rejected time and again. Petitions were filed in lower courts over the past several years, culminating in a Supreme Court petition filed in January of 2009.
“[The ruling] shows that things are starting to change,” said an optimistic Guy Solomon, an administrator for the Open House. “It shows that we as a community also have rights.”
The Open House organizes the annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in addition to providing support to the LGBT community. In 2006, the group hosted the second ever WorldPride in Jerusalem, an international event that promotes LGBT rights. The group has faced both political and violent opposition, mainly from protestors of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
“This is [a victory] for every group suffering from discrimination [in Israel],” declared Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC. She prided the judges for “truly exemplifying tikkun olam and bringing an end to this persistent injustice.” IRAC is the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. It was established in 1987 and has since been a leader in issues of religion and state.
Abe Roisman, IRAC Communications Fellow, +972.52.647.2519, email@example.com