Incidents targeting the LGBTQ community were reported in Israel approximately once every three hours in 2020, with almost 3,000 cases of hate and violence actually taking place, according to a report published by a rights group Monday.
An annual report by the Nir Katz Center of the Agudah – The Association for LGBTQ+ Equality in Israel also said that the number of incidents over the past year has increased by 27% from 2019.
Some 28% of the attacks reported occurred in the family environment and 25% took place in the victim's residential area – a massive rise from 8% in 2019.
The report also stated that 315 young men and women were forced to leave their homes due to continued harassment or abuse due to their sexual or gender identity - a rise of 16% from the year before.
Agudah said that the lockdowns during the pandemic had only exacerbated tense home environments for members of the LGBTQ+ community, with many cases reported of harassment from neighbors or family members.
Despite schools being closed for most of 2020 and students learning from home, 2020 also saw a rise of LGBTQ-phobic incidents in the education system.
According to the report, 4% of such cases also occurred at a person's workplace, compared to 3% in 2019.
In case, a gay man told the organization that his shift manager had for a long time regularly mocked him to his face and behind his back solely due to his sexual identity.
"He would ridicule me and say explicit things about my sexuality in front of other workers and customers. I do not know what to do," the man said.
Transgender people also reported regular harassment, with almost one quarter saying it had taken place in or around their homes (23.5%), as well as cyberbullying (19%) and transphobia, discrimination and difficulty exercising their rights within the healthcare system (23.5%).
One trans woman told Agudah that she was denied a job because of her what she chose to wear at the interview.
"I went to the interview and they asked me what I had between my legs. I had tears in my eyes," she said.
Of the total number of incidents in 2020, 48% targeted lesbian and bisexual women and 27% were directed at gay and bisexual men. Twenty-five percent of the incidents were directed at transgender people - a 60% increase in incidents from the year before.
Some 58% of reports came from people aged 19-30, 22% from under-18s and 14% from those aged 31-40.
While a large proportion of the incidents were reported in the Tel Aviv and central region, there was a increase in complaints from other areas of the country, including Jerusalem, the West Bank and the south.
This can be reflected in the that fact less than half (43%) of the incidents took place in the Tel Aviv area in 2020, down from 60% in 2019.
According to Agudah, there was a rise in the number hostile incidents in the Arab sector, where LGBTQ-related issues were usually downplayed.
All the reports received from Arab members of the LGBTQ+ community pertained to non-acceptance and violence from the immediate family, leading to emotional and economic distress that only intensified during the coronavirus crisis.
Some 96 young Arab Israelis turned to shelters after being thrown out of the family home due to their sexual identity in 2020, compared to 74 in 2019. Some 30% of the people residing in shelters were from the Arab sector, where Agudah said that the cases being reported were severe.
The ultra-Orthodox sector also saw a variety of incidents during 2020, including statements and incitement by senior rabbis such as the "Rabbinical Forum for Religious Zionism" which called for action against LGBTQ+ families, and the Noam Party, which opened a fund to subsidize gay conversion therapy.
The Religious Education Administration at the Education Ministry also withdrew support for in-service training for teachers to provide tools and knowledge about LGBTQ+ students.
"The ugly hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community reached new heights last year as it gained legitimacy from the top officials in the country," said Ohad Hezki, director-general of Agudah.
"Hatred kills and hurts the bodies and minds of thousands of young men and women who just want to be who they are," he said.
"While the governments of Israel have abandoned the LGBTQ+ community in granting basic rights and safeguarding our lives and security, hatred is rampant and elected officials from the diverse political spectrum must stop it – and soon," he said.
"As a strong community, we will continue to fight LGBTQ-phobia until it is completely eradicated. We ask anyone who has experienced an incident of LGBTQ-phobia to contact us. Reporting can save lives."