‘Ad can praise Arab, LGBT equal­ity, not gay mar­riage’

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By YONAH JEREMY BOB

A public ser­vice an­nounce­ment cel­e­brat­ing Arab and LGBT equal­ity can­not be banned, but the part of the ad­ver­tise­ment em­pha­siz­ing gay mar­riage can be, the High Court of Jus­tice ruled.

The As­so­ci­a­tion for Civil Rights in Is­rael pe­ti­tioned the court in Fe­bru­ary af­ter the Sec­ond Au­thor­ity for Tele­vi­sion and Ra­dio re­fused to over­turn its ban on the ad in sup­port of same-sex mar­riage and speak­ing Ara­bic in Is­rael.

The court par­tially up­held the pe­ti­tion last week, rul­ing that the ad be re­in­stated apart from its ref­er­ence to the idea of gay mar­riage, or­der­ing the words “to marry” to be deleted from the sen­tence “the right to love, to marry even if I’m gay.”

A panel of three jus­tices ac­cepted the ar­gu­ment by the ACRI that the mes­sage of pro­mot­ing hu­man rights can­not be con­sid­ered con­tro­ver­sial in a demo­cratic coun­try, and agreed that the broad­cast­ing au­thor­ity should not dis­qual­ify sen­tences such as “The right to speak Ara­bic with­out be­ing afraid” and “The right to love, even if I’m gay.”

How­ever, just-re­tired jus­tice Elyakim Ru­bin­stein, Jus­tice Hanan Mel­cer and Jus­tice Anat Baron up­held the au­thor­ity’s dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the word “mar­riage” which refers to same-sex mar­riage, say­ing that same­sex mar­riage is Is­rael is still very much in dis­pute. Ru­bin­stein reached the manda­tory re­tire­ment age for judges of 70 in June, but con­tin­ues to sit on cases he be­gan hear­ing be­fore then.

The ad was pro­duced ahead of In­ter­na­tional Hu­man Rights Day, which is marked an­nu­ally on De­cem­ber 10, and fea­tures celebri­ties talk­ing about rights that are im­por­tant to them.

Is­raeli-Arab celebrity Mira Awad ap­pears say­ing that it is im­por­tant to her to be able to speak Ara­bic with­out be­ing afraid.

LGBT ac­tivist Adir Steiner de­clares that he has the right to love and to get mar­ried, even if he is gay.

The ad was broad­cast on Chan­nel 2, but the au­thor­ity later de­cided that it in­cludes con­tro­ver­sial is­sues, which its own rules pro­hibit. In that light, the au­thor­ity banned the ad un­til the dis­qual­i­fied sen­tences were re­moved.

The pe­ti­tion noted that over a decade ago, the High Court in­structed the In­te­rior Min­istry to regis­ter as mar­ried a same-sex cou­ple who had mar­ried abroad and that this is a rec­og­nized right in Is­rael. Sim­i­larly, Ara­bic is an of­fi­cial lan­guage in the State of Is­rael and public au­thor­i­ties are re­quired to use it, the pe­ti­tion ar­gued.

How­ever, the High Court re­cently ruled against rec­og­niz­ing same-sex mar­riage as a gen­eral right, stat­ing that since the is­sue is in dis­pute within dif­fer­ent sec­tors of so­ci­ety, it must be re­solved by the Knes­set.

Ru­bin­stein specif­i­cally dis­tin­guished rec­og­niz­ing that gen­eral right from reg­is­ter­ing same-sex mar­riages that took place out­side of the coun­try.

At­tor­ney Dan Yakir, ACRI’s le­gal ad­viser, re­sponded to the rul­ing, say­ing, “By ac­cept­ing ACRI’s pe­ti­tion, the High Court has not only de­fended ACRI’s free­dom of ex­pres­sion to present its po­si­tion on tele­vi­sion, but it has also de­fended the public’s right to be ex­posed to the mes­sage of hu­man rights for all hu­mans – in­clud­ing the right to speak Ara­bic and the right of same-sex cou­ples to recog­ni­tion.

“As Jus­tice Baron noted, we can­not ac­cept the po­si­tion that ‘a public ser­vice an­nounce­ment that pro­motes hu­man rights will con­sti­tute a con­tro­ver­sial so­cial and po­lit­i­cal mes­sage; recog­ni­tion of and com­mit­ment to hu­man rights are in­her­ently re­lated to the very ex­is­tence of a demo­cratic so­ci­ety.’”

He added: “It is re­gret­table that the High Court ap­proved the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the word ‘mar­riage.’ The right of same-sex cou­ples to marry is a ba­sic right. The public ser­vice an­nounce­ment did not dis­cuss how this right should be im­ple­mented in Is­rael... there was no cause to dis­qual­ify it.”

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