The Ministerial Committee for Legislation rejected a bill on Sunday aiming to outlaw discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, just a week after Habayit Hayehudi shot down another gay-rights bill.
While five ministers voted to support the proposal, written by Yesh Atid faction chairman MK Ofer Shelah, five ministers from the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi and Israel Beytenu parties voted against it.
Responding to the outcome, Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) decided to appeal and brought the proposal to the committee's agenda for next week.
In practice, Shelah's bill would amend the Interpretation Law, which regulates the legal interpretation of Israel's civil and criminal codes. In all laws covering discrimination, Shelah's bill would add a stipulation including "discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," while maintaining the "purpose of the legislation."
Shelah's bill would "constitute an interpretive tool for courts over any issue concerning discrimination," making "an educational declaration about equal rights in Israeli society."
Issuing the proposal, Shelah wrote on his Facebook page: "It needs to be clear and fixed in law that sexual orientation and gender identity are an individual's private concerns. Any individual who fails to understand this, maintaining and abiding by outdated notions, will be violating the law and therefore subject to penalty."
Attempting to reach a compromise, Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) suggested adding a stipulation outlawing discrimination based on residence, but that suggestion was denied.
Officials in Habayit Hayehudi said that "it appears Lapid and his party are trying in every possible way to float laws on issues such as same-sex couples and religion and state, out of publicity and political needs."
The legislative committee also struck down an initiative by Hadash MK Dov Khenin that would allowed gay married couples to enjoy the same mortgage benefits as straight married couples. All cabinet minister objected to the proposal except the health minister who abstained.
According to Khenin's bill, "Same-sex couples, who are living as partners in every way yet still cannot be officially recognized as a married couple, do not receive the same benefits as a couple and have to take out mortgages as individuals. This a totally unacceptable situation. ... Same-sex couples work and pay taxes and fulfill their obligations to the state, yet they receive no dispensations, so for their rights, we need to make sure to ensure equality between couples that are not of the same sex and couples that are."
The Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association responded to the votes, saying, "The proposal to amend the Interpretation Law was quashed because several liberal party ministers in the coalition were absent from Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote. We expect and believe that these same minister will be present when the appeal is achieved, not giving their hand to attempts by Habayit Hayehudi and several Israel Beytenu ministers to perpetuate discrimination against the community."