Jerusalem pizzeria fined $4500 for refusing to serve gay man
A Jerusalem pizzeria has been ordered to pay $4500 after refusing to serve a gay man who was wearing a rainbow t-shirt.
Sammy Kanter alleged that he was denied service at Ben Yehuda Pizza in Jerusalem, Israel, during the week of the city’s Pride festival in August 2018.
The US-born rabbinical student was wearing a rainbow T-shirt when he entered the pizza shop with a friend.
Jerusalem pizza shop told gay customers to ‘get out’
Kanter recalled: “After we entered the shop, the employee greeted us and handed out menus. Immediately, his demeanour shifted after looking at my shirt.
“He asked if I was gay. After responding ‘Yes,’ he simply said, ‘Get out.'”
The student launched legal action against the pizza shop over the discriminatory treatment, and this week Jerusalem Small Claims Court found in his favour.
According to the Israel Religious Action Center, the court has ordered the pizza shop to pay 16,000 shekels ($4,500 USD) in damages to Kanter.
In a release, Kanter said: “I couldn’t believe I was being discriminated against for who I am in the place where all Jews are supposed to feel at home.
“I was proud to take the fight public, to make sure businesses know this is not OK, and at the same time tell those who might be afraid to be who they are that it’s also celebrated in this land.
“After going through the trial and winning, I now feel like I truly belong here, to know that discrimination based on sexual orientation is truly against the law.”
Israel has LGBT+ discrimination protections, but they aren’t often enforced
Campaigners say the case is an important test of LGBT+ anti-discrimination laws in Israel.
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Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was outlawed in 2000 in the country, but homophobic attitudes are still pervasive in some parts of Israeli society, and the laws are seldom enforced.
Anat Hoffman of the Israel Religious Action Center told Religion News Service: “Israel has an excellent anti-discrimination law but often, it’s a muscle that isn’t being used.
“If people don’t face the consequences of their bigotry they will continue to being bigots. Lawsuits like this make the muscle work and society is better for it.”
Pro-Israeli LGBT+ organisation A Wider Bridge added: “[The case is a] reminder that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in Israel, and that there are legal ramifications for homophobic actions.
“We applaud Sammy and the greater Israeli LGBTQ community for this important victory.”