Israel: Lesbian couple awarded payout in landmark ruling

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An Israeli lesbian couple is celebrating after a judge ruled that a wedding hall could not reject their custom.

According to the Times of Israel, Yael Biran and Tal Yakobovitch, who live in south London, were awarded NIS 60,000 (about $15,000 or £9,230) last week after the venue near Jerusalem, refused to hold a wedding party for them in 2008.

Ms Brian remarked: “The law is really progressive. It says that no business or service provider in a place that is open to the public can discriminate on the grounds of sex, religion, colour, race or sexual orientation.

She continued: “But this is the first time that it has been put into practice for gays and lesbians.”

The Israeli-born couple were introduced in 2005 when Ms Yakobovitch, now a theatre director, visited London on business.

In 2008, they cemented their relationship with a civil partnership ceremony in London, which their families attended.

After the ceremony, the couple decided to throw a party in Israel at the Yad Hashmona.

Initially, the owner was very helpful. But then, in a telephone discussion, she asked whether Ms Biran would be walking around in a wedding dress, Ms Brian said:

“We both would be, and the owner went quiet. Then she asked, ‘Is this a party for two women?’ Her reaction was, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, we don’t do things like that.’”

In their legal defence, the venue’s owners argued that: “Homosexual relations and lesbian ones are against the will of God. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament treat this phenomenon as abomination. This is our very strict and committed belief.

In a ruling, Judge Dorit Feinstein of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court accepted that there was a clash between freedom of worship and the right to equality. However, she determined that the wedding hall was not a religious venue but a public business and therefore cannot discriminate.