Report shows 10% increase in homophobic incidents in Israel in 2021

The highest number of cases, 35%, reported in Tel Aviv and central region; over 40% take place within the family

Illustrative: An Israeli woman from the LGBT community demonstrates against gay conversion therapy, in southern Israel, on July 14, 2019. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)
Illustrative: An Israeli woman from the LGBT community demonstrates against gay conversion therapy, in southern Israel, on July 14, 2019. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

The year 2021 saw a 10 percent increase in homophobia-related incidents, according to a new report published by Aguda, an umbrella organization representing the LGBTQ community in Israel.

According to the report, some 2,971 homophobic incidents were reported in 2021, compared to 2,696 incident reports the previous year.

The highest number (35.5%) of all reported incidents took place in Tel Aviv and its surrounding metropolitan area. About 15% of all reports were made in the area of Haifa, 10% in Beersheba, 9% in Jerusalem and 4% in Sharon region.

Some 24% of reported incidents were classified as taking place on a national level — in the press and in statements made by public figures. This category only made up 8% of reported incidents in 2020, the report noted.

Among all reported incidents, about 43% happened within the family, compared to 28% in 2020. The report noted a 41% increase in youngsters leaving their homes and moving to LGBT-friendly hostels — 444 reported cases in 2021, compared to 315 cases the previous year.

The year 2021 saw five times more homophiba-related incidents — 7% in 2021, compared to 1.7% in 2020 — take place in the public health system, which may reflect the COVID pandemic and the time people were forced to spend in health clinics and hospitals as a result.

The report also pointed to nearly a 50% increase in reports made by members of the trans community — 1,010 incidents reported in 2021, compared to 674 incidents reported the previous year.

People take part in the 18th annual Jerusalem Gay Pride parade on June 6, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Earlier this month, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, the second openly gay Knesset member, announced a ban on medical professionals engaging in so-called conversion therapy, calling the move a life-saving measure aimed at stamping out a practice that “kills the soul.”

In January, Horowitz announced that same-sex couples, single men and transgender people will be able to parent children through surrogacy, an option that was previously banned for them in Israel.

The new rules were laid down in a directive formed by the Health Ministry director-general in line with a High Court of Justice ruling on the matter.

“Today we put an end to injustice and discrimination. Everyone has the right to parenthood,” he said at the time.

Last August, Israel’s national emergency medical service, Magen David Adom, said it was removing a decade-long ban on gay men donating blood. “The prohibition on gay men donating blood was a relic of a stereotype that belongs in the past,” Horowitz said at the time.

One of the implications of removing the ban of blood donations from gay men was changing the wording of the blood donation questionnaire from asking for the origin of the donor’s mother and father to asking for the origin of “parent 1” and “parent 2.”

This led several religious groups, as well as ultra-Orthodox politicians, to boycott blood donations.

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