Tel Aviv District Court ruled this week that right-wing newspaper Makor Rishon violated the Prohibition Against Discrimination Act when it refused to publish a statement on behalf of the Aguda designed to provide assistance to community members in the religious sector.
The District Court accepted the appeal of the Aguda to the ruling of Tel Aviv’s Shalom court, that rejected a lawsuit, filed after the murder in Bar Noar, stating that the newspaper would compensate the Aguda with an amount of NIS 50,000 plus NIS 10,000 court costs.
According to the Aguda, following the murder in Bar Noar and other similar events, the Aguda asked the newspaper to publish an “ad about the helpline that reads ‘There’s Someone to Talk to’. The newspaper initially agreed to publish the ad but decided to withdraw it at the last moment. In the reply sent by the newspaper’s lawyer to the Aguda it was claimed that the reason for not printing the ad was the fear of hurting the feelings of readers, since it is a “uniquely designed newspaper that primarily targets a very specific readership”.
The Israeli LGBT Task Force sued the newspaper for prohibited discrimination. It lost the case, appealed and eventually won. “The original court linked the ad with ‘buggery’ without any basis,” writes Judge Ruth Lavhar Sharon in her decision. “I see this ad as totally modest and that has nothing to do with homosexual intercourse, whose sole purpose is to raise awareness regarding information and to provide a helpline for people who feel they need it. The ad does not encourage engaging in one activity or another.”
“This is a very modest ad; the only provocative thing about it is actually the fact that it is published by the Aguda. The content of this advertisement is not enough to hurt the feelings of the public, and if the readers are hurt, it is due to the very recognition of the existence of people with different sexual orientations, or that the ad is written by people who do not operate according to Jewish law. Therefore this does not in my opinion justify prohibition of advertising,” the court’s decision reads.
The Aguda declared that the amount of compensation from the case will be directed to the development and the activity of the community’s helpline, and part of it will be invested directly in buying more advertising space in Makor Rishon, for its LGBT readers.