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Israel: Gender-Separate Sidewalks in Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jerusalem Neighborhood Illegal

(Sept. 29, 2010) On September 28, 2010, the High Court of Justice, based on an agreement reached between the state and the petitioners, quashed a petition to enforce a state law that enables equal freedom of movement for both men and women in the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem. The petition, which was submitted by two female members of the Jerusalem Municipal Council and other activists, was lodged in response to the community's allocation of different sidewalks for the different genders and its enforcement by privately paid ushers during the holiday of Succot.

Agreeing with the petitioners, the state notified the Court that it had reached an agreement with the community's leaders to remove the barriers and the ushers. The state further declared that it recognized that in a distinct public domain such as city streets there was a prohibition on gender-based separation. (H.C. 6986/10 Jerusalem Municipal Council Members Rachel Azaria & Laura Verton v. Israel Police [in Hebrew], STATE OF ISRAEL: THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY,; Koby Nachshoni & Ronen Mazdini, High Court: Separation on Mea Shearim's Sidewalks Will Not Be Allowed [in Hebrew], YNET NEWS,,7340,L-3961299,00.html; Jonah Mandel, Gender Segregation Barriers in Mea Shearim Removed , THE JERUSALEM POST ONLINE, (all published on Sept. 28, 2010).)