Male couple refused entry to restaurant ‘because a couple is a man and woman’

Eatery in Nazareth Illit sorry for incident which coincides with Pride weekend, says it respects gay community; LGBT group says discrimination clear reminder the fight continues

A lesbian couple hold hands during the annual Gay Pride rally, on June 8, 2007 Tel Aviv. (David Silverman/Getty Images via JTA)
Illustrative: A couple holds hands during the annual Pride rally, on June 8, 2007 Tel Aviv, (David Silverman/Getty Images via JTA)

A male couple were told they couldn’t dine at a restaurant in the northern city of Nazareth Illit because the special event was reserved for families and couples, and a couple had to be a man and a woman.

The incident occurred on Friday, as an estimated 250,000 people parade through the streets of Tel Aviv for the 2019 Pride Parade, celebrating the LGBTQ community.

“I booked a place for the Frangelico Upper Nazareth restaurant at 8:30 p.m for me and my partner,” Eden Asaban wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. “After I arrived, they told me that it was a day for couples and families. I said that I had booked a place in advance, and that I was here with my partner. Again they told me it was only for couples and emphasized that a couple was a man and a woman.”

Asaben said he called the restaurant afterwards and recorded the conversation in which a worker said they had assumed he was a woman when he made the booking as the name Eden can be used for either gender.

People participate at the annual Pride parade in Tel Aviv, on June 14, 2019 (Flash90)

After Asaben’s post went viral, the restaurant chain issued an apology on Saturday.

“The Frangelico chain, management chain and franchisees love, respect and embrace the gay community, not only on Pride weekend, but throughout the year. As for the unfortunate incident that took place last night at our branch, it was a human error that stemmed from a complete misunderstanding, for which we take full responsibility,” the statement read.

“We take full responsibility — not in order to silence — but out of a real feeling that exists in a place where we believe that all human beings are equal and equally important regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.”

The Aguda, Israel’s LGBT taskforce, responded to the incident telling Channel 13 news: “LGBTphobia takes place every day, minute by minute, and it is a clear reminder of the reality in which we continue to march and fight. Criminal discrimination against the community took place yesterday in Nazareth Illit, while thousands marched in the streets of Tel Aviv. Reality is a clear reminder that we need to continue to march and fight discrimination.

“In 2019 no business owner will decide for us who our spouses will be and how our families should look,” the organization said, noting it was in contact with Asaben and would work with him to explore legal action.

The Aguda reported in February that a homophobic incident occurs on average every ten hours in Israel, and a homophobic social media post is detected every four minutes.

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