A year and a half after the agreement was signed between Kahlon and the gay community, which included an additional NIS 10 million to improve their status, it turns out that the agreement has only been partially implemented: some of the money has been used for other purposes, and NIS 2.5 million for funding a campaign are still lying unused.
Omri Millman, 21.05.18 15:13
A year and a half after signing the budget agreement with the LGBTQ community, it appears that the government is not complying with significant parts of it. This emerged from a check carried out by the Center for Citizen Empowerment in Israel. The agreement was signed in September 2016 between the Minister of the Treasury Moshe Kahlon and representatives of the gay community, with budget commitments to improve their status.
The agreement was signed after a protest that threatened to halt the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv, when the gay community became aware of the cynical exploitation of the parade by the Ministry of Tourism, which invested NIS 11 million in marketing it as a tourist event, while the amount spent on helping to overcome the special difficulties faced by the LGBT community only came to NIS 2 million.
The agreement was signed with Kahlon, but a budget of about NIS 10 million from various ministries was promised. Now it appears that many items have not been implemented or have not been fully implemented. For example, a commitment was given for an additional NIS 5 million for the Ministry of Education. Technically the money has been transferred, but the actual implementation is far from satisfactory. Half a million shekels were intended to be transferred for gay youth, so that all youth organizations could receive funds from this special budget regulation for activities for gay youth, although naturally the Israel Gay Youth (IGY) organization would receive most of the budget. In fact, the Ministry of Education has not implemented this special budget regulation, and has refused to comment on the reason for failing to meet its commitment. Therefore, the money has been allocated proportionately among all the youth organizations, with no emphasis on the purpose for which it was granted.
No information is collected
Another NIS 1.5 million were transferred for providing information and lectures in schools, particularly for the Hoshen (the Hebrew acronym for Education & Change, the Israel LGBT Center for Education & Change of the LGBT community) organization. Due to Education Ministry bureaucracy, the money can only be utilized just before the end of each academic year, making it very difficult for the organizations to make full use of the budget. The money that was transferred was earmarked for projects for the community, through the Matnasim (Community Centers) company. According to the agreement, Matnasim received NIS 2 million a year for gay youth and NIS 1 million a year for the adult community. The program was approved at the end of 2017, and following the approval processes commenced operation in March 2018.
Another decision that remained largely on the shelf was the creation of an information campaign to prevent discrimination and homophobia. According to the agreement, the Government Advertising Agency (“LAPAM”) would produce a campaign at a cost of NIS 2.5 million. In fact, the Ministry for Social Equality received NIS 2 million but the campaign was never started.
The agreement also states that questions in the annual survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics would be changed to include the gay community. Although there is no budget item involved, this change was not made and no change is expected. At present there is little information about the size of the "new families," with the emphasis on single-sex families, which makes it impossible to analyze their difficulties and to promote suitable policies.
Another complex issue is the lack of positions on the Sex Change Committee. According to the agreement, one full-time position was added (half for a secretary and half for a psychologist). While this has certainly improved the process that transgender people are required to undergo, they are still fighting for operating theaters, staff hours, etc. On average, the waiting time for sex-change surgery is two years for women (for men, the option does not currently exist in Israel). There are no resources for post-operative support of these patients.
"Without review mechanisms"
The General Director of the Citizen's Empowerment Center in Israel, Einat Fisher-Lalo, told Calcalist that "Although there is an important precedent-setting agreement between the Treasury and the organizations of the LGBT community, no mechanisms were defined to monitor and review implementation of the agreements and commitments. No future steps were defined to guarantee implementation of the changes over time or any short-term or one-off improvements. While budget transfers that were the responsibility of the Treasury have largely been implemented, other parties, such as the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and the Ministry for Social Equality, are not fully aware of their commitments, or that implementation of such commitments has been delayed."
The CBS stated: "The questions in the next census in 2020 will include, as previously, mapping of the sample households and identification of the relationships between members of the household, permitting the identification of single-sex couples. It is impossible to include any other questions dealing with sexual identity, mainly for reasons of sensitivity."
The Treasury Ministry stated: "The follow-up report found that most of the agreement has been implemented. Regarding youth organizations, there is a budget regulation on this subject. The publicity budget is the responsibility of the Social Equality Ministry. The money has already been transferred to them, and the additional position on the Sex Change Committee has in fact been very helpful."
The Education Ministry stated: "In 2017, the Ministry allocated NIS 1.5 million for workshops. The Ministry will transfer the same amount for this academic year (2017-2018) as well. In 2017, the Ministry allocated 1.2 million shekels to IGY, and in 2018 the Ministry will support this organization according to the criteria."
The Ministry of Health stated: "The Ministry funds some of the positions on the Public Committee for Sex Change. There are no long queues for this Committee, and no further positions are required at present."