Livni moving to make public exclusion of women illegal

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni ordered her ministry to draft legislation that would make the gender-based segregation of women illegal.

Livni made the announcement Thursday on her Facebook page and in an interview with Army Radio.

“Discrimination against women in public places, in public services, cannot be allowed,” she said in the radio interview.

The legislation is expected to be ready in several weeks, Livni said in a Facebook post.

“Removal of women from the public sphere is damaging not only to their dignity, but also to a society that aspires to equality, and it has no religious or moral justification,” she wrote.

A day earlier, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein advised government ministers against the exclusion of women in the public sphere.

The advisory is not binding, but is part of a process in Israel of restoring gender equality after years of tension over the public role and treatment of women.

Issues that have been raised in recent years include women being forced to sit at the back of the bus on lines frequented by the haredi Orthodox and wear modest dress in and around haredi Orthodox neighborhoods.

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