Ramat Gan resident fined for anti-LGBT sign

Honenu has represented many citizens whose fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of protest, have been violated with regard to pride marches. Please click here for a list of relevant posts.

The signs that were removed

Monday, July 3, 2023, 7:59 During June, LGBT organizations marked Pride Month with various events throughout Israel. The Ramat Gan Municipality hung hundreds of pride flags all over the city as a sign of solidarity with them. A resident of the city opposed to the show of support by the municipality for the LGBT organizations hung a protest sign over the entrance to his place of business. In response, the municipality served him with three fines of 730 NIS each within several days, claiming that he had violated a municipal bylaw, and removed the sign. Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado, who is representing the resident, wrote a letter to the Mayor of Ramat Gan, Carmel Shama, demanding that the municipality desist from persecuting his client.

In his letter, Attorney Yado objected to the silencing by the municipality of the resident: “Ramat Gan is heavily festooned with pride flags, as it is every year during Pride month. My client, whose objection to the Pride Month spirit that pervades the city is known to the municipality from previous years, turned to me also this year regarding the conduct of the municipality which will be detailed below. My client stated that as of now, he has received two fines for a ‘Shema Yisrael’ sign and one for a sign protesting the municipality flying pride flags in the city. My client’s act constitutes a legitimate protest against the actions of the municipality. Plurality of opinions is the cornerstone of the liberal and law-abiding society in the State of Israel. Unfortunately, the Ramat Gan Municipality, which has taken sides by identifying with the LGBT movement, is not only festooning the city with pride flags but also silencing someone who dared to voice an opposing opinion. Silencing opinions under the authority of a municipal bylaw is patently illegal.”

Attorney Yado further underscored the abuse by the Ramat Gan Municipality by enforcing a bylaw to suppress legitimate objection to the activities of LGBT organizations: “Freedom of expression must not be suppressed other than by primary legislation, and for an appropriate purpose, in a proportionate manner. Concerning the matter at hand, the municipal bylaw is not primary legislation and silencing opinions is not a worthy goal. Therefore, the outrageous order by the Ramat Gan Municipality to serve my client with a 730 NIS fine every day in order to suppress his voice of dissent is an abuse of the authority as defined in the bylaw regarding signs and billboards, and is for a patently anti-democratic and anti-liberal purpose. Moreover, the fines are not legally valid. Their purpose is to illegally threaten and harass. They constitute the injustices of assault, negligence, and breach of statutory duty. The judicial and administrative provisions of law obligate the municipality to implement their authority on citizens justly, impartially, and in a manner that upholds their fundamental freedoms.”

In conclusion, Yado turned to Mayor Shama and requested that the municipality stop fining his client, and warned that if they did not, he would sue for compensation: “Objection to festooning the city with pride flags, even if it is unpleasant to some personnel in the municipality, is a legal and legitimate act. It is the nature of freedom of expression to grant the liberty to voice opinions that are not in line with the general agenda. In this case, the agenda of the Ramat Gan Municipality is to color the city solely with pride flags while not allowing any display of opposition. Therefore, I request that the municipality stop serving my client with fines. If not, then in addition to requesting court proceedings regarding the fines themselves, my client will demand compensation for the injustice done to him by the municipality in an illegal attempt to silence him.”

Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado commented on the case: “The People of Israel often have to contend with anti-Jewish sentiments, some of which emanate from the governmental establishment against any Jewish motifs or presence in the public sphere. My client is unwilling to relinquish either his identity or his right to express opposition to policies or actions taking place in a democratic society. Honenu intends to support his legitimate struggle which is compatible with the liberal values of the State of Israel, and certainly in light of Jewish and nationalistic values. Our adversaries are making a lot of noise, but at their core, they are devoid of genuine values, and therefore I am sure that we will succeed in the struggle.”

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