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Israel Legalizes Homosexual Activity

The Knesset this week legalized homosexual activity between consenting adults, and raised to 20 years the maximum penalty for rape of either sex under aggravated circumstances.

The amendment to the penal code also bars publication of the name or identifying details of the victim of a sex attack, unless the victim gives permission, in court, for details to be published.

Homosexual activity was not previously included among the details of sexual crimes in the penal code. The new legislation is aimed at clarifying the government’s policy.

Shulamit Aloni of the Citizens Rights Movement, who has been pressing for such legislation for the past 10 years and is herself an outspoken champion of women’s rights, nevertheless had objections to the amendment as adopted.

She said the law is deficient because it presents women as objects and as passive participants in sexual activity, and does not consider that women may be responsible for rape.

The new law was welcomed, however, by the Jerusalem Post, which wrote Thursday, in an editorial headlined “Protecting Human Dignity,” that the Knesset has “banished ancient prejudice and the denial of personal freedom from the civil law bearing on matters of sexual conduct.”

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