MK Moshe Gafni
MK Moshe GafniYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Following the furor that has resulted in left-wing circles regarding the demand of the religious and haredi political parties to anchor in law the permissibility of holding gender-separated public events, MK Moshe Gafni, head of the Degel HaTorah party within United Torah Judaism (UTJ) has announced that he is unabashedly proud of his party's demand in coalition negotiations.

On Sunday morning, the Israel Hayom newspaper first reported on the demand being made by UTJ and Religious Zionism; shortly afterward, outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid condemned the move on Twitter, claiming that the religious parties want to "push women behind the barricades" and that Israel "is not Iran."

Court rulings have often banned the holding of events at which men and women are seated separately, and feminist and leftist-secular groups wage an ongoing battle to eliminate gender separation in public life, including cultural events geared toward the religious community, single-sex classes in universities, and other public services.

"All those who speak against gender-based separation in the religious and haredi communities reveal their true faces as people who have no consideration for those who are different to them," Gafni said on Sunday.

"All their fine words about the importance of integrating haredim and enabling them to live according to their own way of life are hollow and empty of all content," he added. "Their words testify to their pathological hatred toward the religious and the haredim, a hatred which is now inflamed due to the fact that we are about to enter into a coalition with the Likud party. All such issues and more would have passed and been accepted without comment if we had joined a coalition with the left-wing parties," he added.

Meanwhile, Labor party leader MK Merav Michaeli added her voice to those condemning the demand to legally establish the non-discriminatory nature of gender-based separation in public life. "We warned that a coalition without women in it would harm women, and now look - they're demanding that the law should permit them to put women at the back," she said.

Outgoing Energy Minister Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) added, "When Iranian-style legislation is taken form before our very eyes, only the Supreme Court can protect the right to equality."