NEW YORK – A New York City Council member says he will sponsor gender-segregated beach days for his Jewish and Muslim constituents this summer — a plan opposed by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Councilman Chaim Deutsch announced the first-ever "Southern Brooklyn Beach Day," hosting separate dates for men and women.
"I have a lot of Orthodox Jewish and Muslim constituents in my district who have never been able to go to the beach before," the Democrat told the New York Post . "They've never been able to smell the beach, to walk in the sand. Everyone should be able to enjoy the beach."
Deutsch said he is raising private funds to cover the cost of taking over the beach for two days at Kingsborough Community College, which sits next to popular Manhattan Beach.
The beach would normally be closed on both Fridays since the college doesn't have summer classes that day.
Under his plan, June 29 would be set aside for men and boys from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and July 27 would be reserved for women and girls during those hours.
"What chutzpah," said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman, employing the widely appropriated Yiddish-based term for audacity. "People don't have the right to impose gender discrimination on a city beach simply because it's mandated by their religion."
"It is one thing for the city to provide reasonable accommodation for religious practice and quite another to limit the public access of everybody else," said Lieberman.
Deutsch said men and women of all faiths would be welcome on their respective days.
Deutsch is raising private funds to cover $400 per day in costs for lifeguards and other staff.
"We want to be neighborly," said college spokesman Anthony Andrews, adding that the councilman has "been very supportive to us."
Information from: New York Post, http://www.nypost.com