(JTA) — Three bills that would protect overweight people from discrimination have been introduced in Israel’s Knesset.
Lawmaker Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party introduced each measure, Ynet reported.
One bill, an amendment to the Prohibition of Discrimination in Goods or Services Law, would prohibit denying commercial services to someone on the basis of their weight.
An amendment to the Defamation Law would empower overweight people to sue those who insult or exclude them because of their weight. Another amendment, to the Equality and Opportunity in Work Law, would add weight to the list of items that may not be used to discriminate against potential employees.
“Overweight persons are discriminated against when applying for work and are even ridiculed in advertisements and in the press,” Zandberg said on Sunday. “The time has come to change this situation and to extract this invalid practice from the root.”
Zandberg’s proposals, drafted with assistance from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, came a week after the rights group asked the Israeli Medical Association’s ethics committee to issue standards governing how physicians discuss their patients’ weight.
According to The Times of Israel, the rights group’s letter said it was responding to “cumulative evidence” of the need for “clear directives” barring doctors from commenting on a patient’s weight “except in relevant cases.”
The letter claimed that “fat-phobia is the new homophobia.”
Numerous health risks and diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, have been linked to obesity. In April, an Israeli study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that overweight teens face increased risks of dying from cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke and sudden death in adulthood.
According to Haaretz, the study, based on a database of 2.3 million 17-year-old Israelis spanning four decades, found that any above-normal body mass index increases a person’s risk of contracting fatal cardiovascular diseases later in life. In some cases, according to the study, risks were five times higher than for teens of normal weight.