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Bill Calls for Decriminalizing Homosexual Relations

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The Cabinet will vote next week on a bill to decriminalize homosexual relations between consenting adult males. The measure was submitted at yesterday’s Cabinet session by Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir but a vote was postponed because Interior Minister Yosef Burg objected.

The proposed bill would remove from the statutes a law enacted under the Mandatory regime in Palestine which declares homosexuality a criminal offense, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. The law has not been invoked since the 1960s when rulings by the Supreme Court effectively nullified it. Tamir explained that his legislation was needed because there is no justification in this day and age for the State to interfere in a private activity which is solely a matter between individuals.

Tamir’s bill would crock down hard on forced homosexual relations and would regard such relations with children or youths as rape, punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

Burg, a leader of the National Religious Party, said his objections were on moral and social rather than religious grounds. He said the existing law should remain in force, even if not invoked, as a deterrent and to upheld the social norm. He claimed that if the bill was passed “Israel would become a world center for homosexuals.”

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