Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Israel's Courts Wrestle With Sex-Segregated Cultural Events

In Israel, the controversy over gender-segregated events sponsored by municipalities continues. Times of Israel reports that on Sunday a Haifa district court ordered cancellation of a performance by ultra-Orthodox singers Mordechai Ben David and Motty Steinmetz which was to be open only to men. The ruling came in a suit filed by a women's rights group.  The court said in part:
The ultra-Orthodox public in Haifa is entitled to funding for cultural activities like every other public group, but when it comes to public money, there is a need to act in accordance with instructions from the attorney general and the government. It’s important to remember that in regards to the entrance to public places, there is a law that forbids discrimination in products, services and entrances to entertainment venues and public areas, 
Earlier this month, the High Court of Justice banned a similar sex-segregated performance in the city of Afula, but its ruling came too late to actually prevent the performance from going ahead. In response to the Afula case, Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit provided guidance on when municipal authorities can organize gender-segregated cultural events.  As reported separately by Times of Israel:
Mandelblit published guidelines for authorities saying that gender-segregation could be permissible if the separation were voluntary and desired by the target audience, men and women had equal conditions, and separation did not unduly impact those opposed to it.
“The greater the voluntary component, the less the difficulty in gender segregation, and when it comes to a completely voluntary segregation in which every person chooses his place without being directed, there is no difficulty,” Mandelblit said.