Israel Has Outlawed Making The Elderly Stand In Public Lines

Posted: Updated:
Print

When it comes to laws for the elderly, they're often about restrictions — not letting people drive or even preventing them from voting.

But in Israel, where people 80 and over are 5.5 per cent of the population, they've decided to buck the trend and pass a law in favour of octogenarians (and above).

As of March, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the government passed a bill that prevents anyone aged 80 and over from having to stand in a line in a public space.

elderly waiting in lineGettystock photo.

It applies to places like post offices, banks, theatres, stadiums, national parks and nature reserves and large supermarkets, Haaretz clarifies, but isn't in effect for medical appointments or for cars lined up at gas stations, for example.

The bill was initiated by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (a position formerly called the Senior Citizen Affairs Minister). Upon its passing, she noted, "Serving the elderly first and allowing them to skip lines is something which we as a society would need to do, even if not required by law."

The way in which older people are treated tends to be dependent on the culture, but some countries have even felt the need to pass laws that criminalize children who neglect their parents. France, in 2004, amended Article 207 of its Civil Code to ensure kids are kept apprised of their parents' health, the Telegraph reported. And China passed a similar law in 2013 to ensure elderly parents would be visited by their children, AP writes.

The way in which older people are treated tends to be dependent on the culture, but some countries have even felt the need to pass laws that criminalize children who neglect their parents.

But lines in particular can be a chaotic undertaking for even the most able-bodied person. While Canadians are trained at a young age to stand patiently in line (as, famously, are British people), people who come here from other countries are shocked to see this behaviour, notes a 2014 National Post article.

It's possible, however, that Canadians' adherence to lines and the "everyone waits their turn" mindset that it involves could make us reject notions like letting those who are more in need skip to the front.

But it's this type of everyday etiquette that can make all the difference in how a culture views its older citizens, as people are reminded that the elderly could use a little bit of help in even the simplest tasks.

"I have no doubt that this law will help make honouring the elderly become a social norm, so that one day it becomes superfluous," said Gamliel.