(Apr. 11, 2011) On March 30, 2011, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed a second amendment to the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services, and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law, 5761-2000. The Law prohibits discrimination in supplying products and public services and giving entry based on the following grounds: race, religion, religious affiliation, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, views, political affiliation, personal status, and paternity. The March 2011 amendment extends the list of grounds for discrimination to also include “the introduction of conditions that are irrelevant.”
According to explanatory notes for the bill, different treatment that derives from the character or the nature of the place or service in question, or that is made by a non- profit organization in promoting the special needs of a specific group, and the provision of separate arrangements for men and women in a way that does not contradict promoting equality have been recognized by Israeli courts as not constituting discrimination. According to these explanatory notes, the inclusion of “irrelevant conditions” among those grounds that may qualify as discriminatory was intended to address the problem of circumventing the Law by preventing or delaying entry and service based on “irrelevant reasons.”
The Law establishes a presumption based on which the burden of proof in proceedings under the Law's provisions shifts to the defendant when the plaintiff has proven that the defendant had refused to supply products or provide entry or services in public places, after either inquiring about or making a decision based on the above discriminatory grounds.
The March amendment adds another situation in which the burden of proof shifts to the defendant to prove his innocence. This will occur in circumstances where the plaintiff has proven that the defendant had delayed supplying a product, the provision of a public service, or the entry into or the provision of a service in a public place, to persons who belong to a group that is identified by any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination and not to persons who do not belong to such a group. (Prohibition on Discrimination in Products, Services, and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law, 5761-2000 [in Hebrew], SEFER HAHUKIM [Book of Laws, the official gazette], No. 1765, p. 58, as amended; Prohibition on Discrimination in Products, Services, and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law (Amendment No. 2), 5771-2011 & bill[both in Hebrew], the Knesset website (both last visited Mar. 8, 2011).)