Israel saw a substantial surge in the number of cases of homophobia in 2018, with a 54% increase on the year before, according to a new report by an LBGT watchdog.
According to the report by the Nir Katz Center in Tel Aviv, there were 1,577 instances of homophobia in Israel in 2018, but a complaint was made to police in just 3% of the cases. The data shows that 25% of the incidents took place in public areas, 22% on social networks, and 15% carried out by family members.
In addition, 13% of the homophobic incidents reportedly happened at the complainant's workplace, whereas 8% of the cases were described as homophobic remarks made by public officials such as rabbis and Knesset members. Seven percent of the discriminatory incidents were noted in the education system and higher education institutions, 5% in the defense establishment, and 5% of the racist incidents were said to take place in government offices.
Thirty-six percent of the complainants were homosexual and bisexual men, 20% lesbian and bisexual women, and 14% transgender men and women. The sexual inclination of 30% of the complainants is unknown. The report also shows that the number of lesbian and bisexual women who reported a homophobic incident has doubled in comparison to 2017.
Forty-nine percent of the complainants reside in the central of the country, 24% live in Jerusalem and its surroundings, 14% in Haifa and the north of the country, and 13% in Be'er Sheva and the south.
Cities with the largest amount of homophobic incidents reported in 2018 were Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Rishon LeZion, Holon, and Ashkelon.
In 2018, Holon's Deputy Mayor Yoel Yeshurun, who is also the dean of the Ashkelon Academic College, published homophobic posts on his Facebook page, decrying the annual Gay Pride Parade and calling members of the LGBT community "monsters," and "two-legged animals." In response, the members of the LGBT community staged a protest in front of Holon's City Hall.
Furthermore, some 180 youths left their homes in the past year after being victims of homophobia.
Seventy-five percent of homophobic incidents in the defense establishment reportedly took place in the army. Among the reported incidents are a soldier that was outed in front of her platoon and troops who tore up pride parade postcards on the desk of a homosexual soldier. In addition, soldiers who are members of the LGBT community reported being denied promotion and experiencing sexual harassment. The army also reportedly failed to handle public humiliation of homosexual soldiers.
Seventy-eight percent of the homophobic incidents in the education system took place in high schools and 20% in higher education institutions. Some 28% of the discriminatory acts were said to be carried out by principals, teachers and the Education Ministry staff who posting homophobic content on their private Facebook pages.
The homophobic incidents reported in the education system included kindergarten teachers who refused to hold explanatory classes on the LGBT community, despite the fact some of the parents were lesbians, which led the children to be teased on a daily basis. Moreover, teachers were reported to mistreat a PR team that arrived at their school to lecture about the LGBT community, while a transgender man suffered discrimination in the dormitory of an Israeli university.
It was also reported that every four minutes on average a homophobic post is published on social media, with half of the posts targeting gay men, 24% are directed against transgender men and women, 3% against lesbians, and 23% target the general LGBT community.
Sixty-nine percent of those who published hateful posts were men.
Chen Arieli, chair of the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel stressed that the biggest problem was “the need to raise consciousness about the need to report. The number of reported incidents has gone up, but it is still a drop in the ocean compared to the real number of events. Only by raising consciousness and by dealing with incidents professionally can we improve our society.”
"The inciters and those who spread hatred while holding a position of power should be removed from that position. We will continue struggling for a better future and for changing the policy that shapes the current reality. We won't be erased from the public sphere, protect our personal space and security and continue working tirelessly to promote equality," she said.
This is the sixth report of its kind, and the first presented to President Reuven Rivlin.