The Israeli parliament has approved a law protecting gay and lesbian school pupils.
The law, which was passed last week, outlaws discrimination by schools against pupils because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to The Jerusalem Post, the bill’s sponsor, Dov Henin, has pointed out that this is the first-ever bill to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in Israel.
“This law is there to protect not only the students in the LGBT community – it is there to protect us all. Unwelcoming and intolerant schools will lead to a society that is the same,” Henin told Haaretz.
“If youth today are experiencing verbal abuse in schools, then physical violence against the community could become an everyday reality. Approval of the bill sends a clear message: We want to live in a society where we all have equal rights, and is the responsibility of us all to fight for this cause.”
According to the Israeli Gay Youth Organisation, 52% of gay youth have been exposed to verbal homophobic abuse; 23% of them from teachers. One in ten has reported physical violence.
Israel is by far the most progressive country in the Middle East when it comes to gay and lesbian rights. The country, however, is grappling with the issue of gay marriage.
While it recognises same-sex marriages licensed in other countries, it does not allow same-sex couples to marry on Israeli soil.