Same-sex couple win huge payout after dream wedding venue turned them away for being queer

A same-sex couple has won over 80,000 Israeli shekel (£19,000) in compensation after a wedding venue discriminated against them.

The couple were horrified when a representative from the Ganei Hatzvi venue in Ashkelon told them it wouldn’t host their wedding because they are both women.

The representative was documented saying “we do not do such things” in a telephone conversation with the couple, the Times of Israel reported. He also said that the venue “[doesn’t] do Bedouin [weddings] either”, claiming: “We let them get their photographs done here, but [weddings] we don’t do”.

The couple filed a lawsuit with the help of the Aguda Association for LGBT Equality, which aims to help LGBTQ+ people in Israel including by providing legal counsel. They were represented by Hagai Kelai, Adi Greenfeld, and Adia Sheinwald.

After concluding on Tuesday (10 May) in Ashdod’s Magistrate Court, both parties agreed on a settlement of 80,000 shekel for the two women in compensation.

Aguda won a similar case in 2020 after a Beersheba print shop refused to serve an LGBTQ+ customer. The print shop was ordered to pay 100,000 shekel by the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court in damages to the Ben Gurion University LGBT chapter.

Judge Orit Lipshitz also ordered the print shop to pay 50,000 shekel in legal expenses after it claimed its owners, who are religious, are barred from assisting “offenders of religious law.”

An amendment to the Libel and Slander Law in 1997 prohibits defamation, slander, or discrimination based on sexual orientation. A similar amendment was passed in 1992 to prohibit employment discrimination.

The couple filed a lawsuit was filed after a representative for the Ganei Hatzvi venue in Ashkelon tried to convince the couple to reconsider their application upon realising it was a same-sex wedding in 2020.