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Gay couple slapped with fine by homophobic cops while trying to help sick, elderly mother

Lily Wakefield January 28, 2021
Police officers in Haifa, Israel.

Police officers in Haifa, Israel. (NurPhoto via Getty/ Mati Milstein)

A couple in the Kiryat Haim neighbourhood of Haifa, Israel, were stopped and fined after helping one of their elderly mothers, as police refused to believe they were together because they’re both men.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Yigal Ohayon and his partner, Shai-El Atias, were stopped at a police checkpoint on Saturday evening (23 January).

The couple had been helping Ohayon’s elderly mother, who had called them to say she was feeling unwell, and were on their way back home. Coronavirus regulations state that travelling to give medical aid to a family member is allowed.

But when they were stopped by authorities, they were not questioned on their reason for travelling, only on the fact that they are a gay couple.

Ohayon told the news channel N12: “The officer asked us where we had been and what we were doing, and I explained to him that we had traveled together because my mother is a relatively large woman and I can’t take care of her on my own.

“After we were asked why we were together, we said that we were a couple.

“They responded: ‘What do you mean?’ We asked if he’d never heard of gay men and if he was dismissing the fact that we’re a couple.

“So the second officer joined and they had a conversation between themselves about us.

“The officer said ‘No way. There’s no such thing. It doesn’t make sense that there’s such a thing.'”

They offered to call Ohayon’s mother to confirm their story, but said they were “ignored” and fined NIS 500 (£111) each. The couple later came across another checkpoint, but police let them pass without question.

They will be taking the matter to court, Ohayon said, and added: “After five years together he has dismissed our relationship and who we are.

“Just because he’s a homophobe we got two fines. I’m not going to give up and I’ll go all the way with this cop’s behaviour.

“It’s not that all cops are homophobic, but it’s time to put an end to racism and homophobia, certainly when it comes to law enforcement.”

Although Atias and Ohayon caught some of the police officers’ behaviour on video, they did not manage to record the homophobia, and authorities are refusing the release the officers’ body cam footage.

Ohad Hezki, director-general of the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, said the organisation would “stand by” the couple.

Hezki said: “Israel police must disclose the documentation of the incident from the police’s body cameras and investigate the case properly.

“We will not tolerate any harm, discrimination or hatred on the part of police officers, whose job is to be an address for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community, not create it.”

More: Haifa, Israel

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