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Advertisers must run anti-gay political ads, Israeli judge rules

Emma Powys Maurice August 9, 2019

An Israeli judge has ruled that under election law, companies must sell advertising space to any party or none at all (Michael Jacobs/Corbis/Getty)

Advertising companies in Israel cannot reject homophobic adverts if they come from a political party, a judge has ruled.

The ruling came after two billboard owners refused to give advertising space to the ultra-Orthodox Zionist Noam party, which linked gay people with child trafficking.

The posters read: “‘Pride’ and the buying of children or my son will marry a woman – Israel chooses to be normal” and “Reform [Jews], or my grandson remaining Jewish – Israel chooses to be normal.”

Ahead of the September 17 election in Israel, the newly founded far-right party attempted to run the ads on on a bus and a Jerusalem hotel wall.

The advertising companies refused on the grounds that the ads “could be hurtful to whole communities.”

In response the party petitioned a parliamentary body chaired by Israeli Supreme Court justice Neal Hendel, who ruled that under election law, companies must sell advertising space to any party that wants it or none at all.

Hendel said: “A duty of equality (includes) the commitment to publish election propaganda of all parties and lists, including those whose values ​​are different… from those of the advertising agency.”

The lawyer for the two advertising companies lamented the judge’s decision, saying that it means they will be forced to run ads claiming that “the LGBT community is involved in ‘buying children’ and that any family not composed of a mother and a father is abnormal.”

Israel
Election billboards erected by Israel’s leading party, Likud, showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin (Amir Levy/Getty)

Israel decriminalised homosexuality in 1988. Same-sex marriages are not performed, but marriages performed elsewhere are recognised.

Gay rights campaigners told Reuters that Noam’s advertising had no place in a democratic election campaign.

“When children like our children – 5, 6, 8 year-old children – see this kind of hate advertising they ask us, ‘Dad, do you think that I am normal?” said Julien Bahoul, spokesman for the Association of Gay Israeli Fathers.

Such advertising has “nothing to do with freedom of speech,” said Or Keshet, who lobbies Israeli politicians on behalf of a coalition of 14 Israeli LGBT+ groups.

“They hate and they mock and they insult anyone who is different than them,” he said.

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