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High Court strikes text referring to same-sex marriage from rights video
'The right to same-sex marriage—as opposed to the right of every person to love and choose how to live—is somewhat controversial in Israeli society,' writes Justice Rubinstein in verdict, explaining that a PSA in support of gay marriage might bring about an anti-gay rights PSA to be aired on the same platform; Court does allow references to speaking Arabic 'without fear.'
The High Court of Justice (HCJ) has ordered that the phrase "to marry" be stricken from a video dealing with human and gay rights, created by NGO the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

 

 

In his decision, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said the matter is considered "controversial in Israel."

 

The High Court discussion took place following a petition made by the Association, after the council of the Second Authority for Television and Radio disqualified the text from appearing in a video the civil rights group wanted to air on Channel 2.

 

Text saying same-sex couples have right "to marry" was removed from the video (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Text saying same-sex couples have right "to marry" was removed from the video (Photo: Reuters)

 

The video was prepared for Human Rights Day and dealt with the rights of minority populations. The Civil Rights Association asked to air it on Channel 2 during its "community time," which are slots dedicated to broadcasting videos by public organizations free of charge.

 

The Second Authority's Council disqualified some of the video's statemements, claiming videos with "political, social, public or economic messages considered controversial in the public" are barred.

 

The prohibited statements referred to the right to marry "even if I'm gay", the right to speak Arabic "without fear" and having "no respect, no liberty and no quality in a place that does not safeguard human rights."

 

The High Court accepted most of the Civil Rights Association's claims and determined the barred segments should be added back in, with one significant amendment: the phrase "to marry" should be removed.

 

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote the decision (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky) (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote the decision (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

 

"Without expressing our opinion on the actual issue, it appears the right to same-sex marriage—as opposed to the right of every person to love and choose how to live their life—is somewhat controversial in Israeli society," wrote Justice Rubinstein in the verdict.

 

"Under these circumstances, approving the phrase 'to marry' might invite a counter-video opposing same-sex marriage. It appears, then, that for the words 'even if I'm gay' to remain in the video the phrase 'to marry' must be removed," he wrote.

 

Regarding the statement about speaking Arabic, Justice Rubinstein said it is a regrettable yet not unrealistic to assume some Arabic speakers in certain places would prefer to not speak Arabic, out of fear, despite the fact the court believes any native speaker of Arabic can and should take pride in their language. "No one in Israel should be afraid to do so," the judges' decision said, "quite the contrary."

 

As it pertains to verbiage regarding freedom and equality, Justice Rubinstein noted the court chooses not to interfere with its phrasing as it's protected under the freedom of speech.

 

"In accepting the Association's petition, the High Court not only protected the association's freedom of speech to speak out on television, but also the public's right to be exposed to a message about the rights of all human beings," said attorney Dan Yakir, the Civil Rights Association's legal counsel.

 

This includes "the right to speak Arabic and same-sex coupling," he said. "As Justice Anat Baron noted, 'a position stating a video promoting human rights comprises a controversial social and political message cannot be reconciled. The recognition and commitment to human rights is linked to the very existence of a democratic society, especially in the reality in which we live.'"

 

"Human rights are the cornerstones of any democracy, and therefore the Second Authority's decision to disqualify was especially egregious. It's a shame the High Court approved striking the phrase 'to marry.' The right of same-sex couples to be married is a basic human right. The video never broached the manner in which this right should be implemented in Israel, and so removing it was baseless," Yakir added.

 


First published: 13.09.17, 21:49
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