What is the anti-discrimination law that new Israeli government is seeking to change?

Analysis: Religious MKs Orit Strook and Simcha Rothman propose 'religious' changes to the legislation to allow public servants, such as doctors, to be able to refuse providing services 'that go against their faith'
Tova Zimuki|
The Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services, and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law was enacted back in 2000, and it was passed by the initiative of the Association for Civil Rights, receiving full legal support from the Justice Ministry.
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  • It was named the "Selection Law," as it was enacted reports emerged that young Israelis of Ethiopian descent were facing discrimination when entering nightclubs, swimming pools, and playgrounds - all because of the color of their skin.
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    הפגנה הפגנות מחאה מחאת יוצאי אתיופיה ב נתניה
    הפגנה הפגנות מחאה מחאת יוצאי אתיופיה ב נתניה
    Israelis of Ethiopian descent protest discrimination
    (Photo: AFP)
    The law - which Benjamin Netanyahu's religious coalition partners are seeking to change - states that those who are providing a product, service, or operating a public place will not discriminate based on race, religion or religious group, nationality, place of origin, sex, or sexual orientation, age, opinion, party affiliation, personal status or parenting.
    However, there are already exceptions to the law. If discrimination is necessary due to the nature of the service: When it is done by a non-profit organization or club, to promote the special needs of the group members belonging to it, and provided that special needs don't contradict the purpose of the law.
    For example, a separate framework for men or women, in which non-separation will prevent some of the public from receiving the product or service (provided that the separation is justified, and taking into account the nature of the product or service, in its degree of vitality in the existence of a reasonable alternative).
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    אורית סטרוק, שמחה רוטמן
    אורית סטרוק, שמחה רוטמן
    Simcha Rothman and Orit Strook
    (Photo: GPO)
    So what will be the essence of the amendments proposed by some religious members of the emerging coalition?
    On Sunday, two Religious Zionism members - MK Orit Strook and MK Simcha Rothman suggested that a doctor, for instance, should be able to refuse "a medical treatment that does not match his faith, or a hotel owner could refuse to host gay people."
    "At the moment, it seems that the amendment only allows religious discrimination," says Dr. Adam Shinar, a constitutional law professor at Reichman University.
    "Once a person opens a business in public space, he must take on all kinds of obligations. He can't discriminate. He has to deliver the product to anyone who needs it. Even a public service doctor can't discriminate between religions. It is clear that if the service itself is of a distinctly religious nature, like mikveh, a religious marriage by a rabbi of a gay couple or a certificate of kosher service for those who sell pork is not included in the outlawing.
    "As soon as discrimination is legitimized, the number of discriminated people will rise," Dr. Shinar adds.
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