Knesset committee votes on university gender law

University heads say they favour integrating ultra-Orthodox groups into academic institutions, but strongly oppose legislation on gender segregation, as an Israeli government ministerial committee prepared to vote on a bill that would allow separate study tracks for men and women at Israeli universities, reports The Times of Israel.

The legislation is being sponsored by Ya’akov Margi of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of the right-wing Jewish Home party. “The bill is based on the recognition of the freedom of religion and conscience of students and members of the academic staff,” read the explanatory notes to the legislation. Some ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups observe strict gender division in public spaces, with men and women being separated by physical barriers.

Many high school and elementary students within the religious streams of education learn in single-sex schools, but universities currently do not have gender segregation. The committee of university heads came out strongly against the proposed legislation, saying it is against “advancing any bill that is intended to create a barrier and separate students”. The committee added that it sees great value in the integration of the ultra-Orthodox population into the higher education system.
Full report on The Times of Israel site