The Education Ministry still considers homosexual relations between minors a crime and instructs school staff to report such acts to the authorities, according to instructions dating back to 1999.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel called on the ministry to correct the memo, noting that acts are legal in Israel over the age of 16.
These instructions, based on a ministry memorandum and first reported by Yedioth Ahronoth, distinguish between "sodomy" – oral or anal sex – and heterosexual acts. In the latter case, school staff must report to the authorities only if the students are under 14, or if one of them is between 14 to 16 and had relations with someone two years senior. In the former, acts must be reported if either side is under 18, and specifically notes that this pertains even if the relations were consensual.
The memo, which calls the issue of consent "complex and problematic from a legal standpoint," erroneously states that oral or anal sex between minors is prohibited, even though such acts between minors over 16 are in fact legal.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned Education Ministry Director Shmuel Abuhab to correct the memo. The group noted in its letter that as recently as May 2017, a refresher course for school counselors instructed them that oral and anal sex between minors is illegal, and that they are required by law to report such acts to the authorities.
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These instructions, the group said, "carry grave potential damage to students and their families."
"We find it odd how such a sensitive issue, which touches upon the core of development, maturity and identity of teens, has been ignored by the Education Ministry for nearly two decades, and how generations of educational advisers continue to be educated on the false and destructive perception that anal and oral sex, and correspondingly homosexual sex, are prohibited relations which carry criminal liability," the group stated.