AFTER he was shown the door by an employee at a pizzeria in Jerusalem, Sammy Kanter, above, an American rabbinical student, took legal action against the food outlet – and won.
What upset the Ben Yehuda 2 pizzeria worker was Kanter’s rainbow T-shirt which bore the word “Cincy”, short for his home town of Cincinnati.
When the employee spotted the T-shirt, he asked Kanter “Atah Homo (are you gay)?”. When the 32-year-old student confirmed that he was, he was shown the door and told to get out, along with two friends. The incident occurred when they were attending the city’s LGBTQ pride weekend last year.
But it was it only recently that Kanter was informed that a court claim he made against the pizzeria had succeeded, and Ben Yehuda 2 was ordered to pay him around $4,500 in damages.
Kanter was helped with lawsuit by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the social justice arm of the Reform movement in Israel.
Kanter said that at first, he couldn’t believe he had faced discrimination in a place where:
All Jews are supposed to feel at home.
But after going through the trial and winning, Kanter said he now feels a deeper sense of belonging in Israel. He said he hasn’t encountered any other instances of being discriminated against for his sexual orientation during his time in Jerusalem.
The outpouring of support from people around Israel, the incredible team at Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), and the outcome of the trial made me realize that Israel offers me protections for being gay that even the United States doesn’t offer. While this protection is in place, there is still a long way to go to make sure all LGBT people feel safe and secure in this entire country.
Kanter says that he plans to donate the money from his legal victory to IRAC:
To continue fighting for religious equality, specifically for Reform Jews, here in Israel.
Now it just so happens that yesterday I received a very abusive email from a fella called Alan Thom, who called me a “rat” and accused me of “arrogance” for writing a “filthy” column in Spain’s weekly Euro Weekly News about a gay couple in Indiana – Bailey and Samantha Brazzel, above – who who were refused service by a tax consultant called Nancy Fivecoat because they were in a same-sex marriage. I ended the piece by writing:
Feel free to disagree with me, but I firmly believe that if people set out to make a living by providing a public service, that’s precisely what they should do. And if they feel that some of their customers are unworthy of receiving equal treatment, perhaps they should find alternative vocations that don’t bring them into contact with the general public. Becoming nomadic goat-herders in a remote region of Namibia may suit them better.
Fills me with revulsion for you. How dare you attack a straight person who does not wish to do business with a homosexual.
He blathered on about gay people nowadays being given “great latitude” but, despite this, still “demand preferential treatment.”
I am sorry that my article filled you with “revulsion” but a single chicken will provide you with four drumsticks and eight wings before I offer an apology or a retraction.
I grew up in an era in South Africa when services were denied to people of colour. I passionately believed then that racism was utterly contemptible and think the same today. Ditto homophobia. My article clearly pointed out that people who have businesses have a duty to provide their services to ALL their clients, and if they cannot do so they should find some other occupation. Nowhere did I suggest that gay people should get preferential treatment, just simple equality.
If you think customers who wants their taxes filled in by a professional, or have an invitation printed, or a same-sex wedding cake created should be insulted and belittled because of their sexual orientation, then I can only assume that you are in favour of gross discrimination …
When, for example, it became illegal in the UK for businesses to post “No Irish, No Blacks” notices on their doors and windows, people who belonged in these groups were not “given great latitude”. They were simply accorded equal rights and given the freedom to exercise those rights.
Since then, many countries have, to their credit, passed laws to prevent discrimination against minorities, and if business owners believe they can flout those laws by waving a bloody Bible about and shriek out Jesus’ name, they should be called out, shamed, boycotted and sued. As a militant atheist, I have nothing but contempt for religion, and will express that contempt whenever I see it impinging negatively on people’s lives …
If my “filthy” article about the lesbian couple – who, incidentally, have thanked me profusely for writing it – filled you with revulsion and rage, I guess my next column about Brexshit and the intolerance, racism and the hatred it has unleashed will send your blood pressure into the stratosphere. Best not read it, eh?
This further infuriated him:
The most offensive part of your disgusting reply is that you confess to being a militant atheist, @ that you have nothing but contempt for religion. This confirms my opinion of you – a singularly minded rat of the first order.