Same-sex marriage in Israel

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Same-sex marriage cannot legally be performed in Israel. Under the confessional community system that operates in Israel, each of the recognized confessional communities regulates the personal status, including marriage and divorce, of its members. The state views marriage as a religious institution and as such does not issue marriage licences, regardless of sexual orientation. This secures separation of church and state and also aims to prevent conflict between the various religions in the country. The religious authority for the Jewish majority marriages is the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and there are parallel authorities for Christians, Muslims, Druze and nine Christian authorities, with a total of 15 religious courts. These regulate all marriages and divorces for their own communities. Currently they all oppose same-sex marriages. If the views of one of these bodies were to change, however, it would be legal for members of that religious community to enter into same-sex marriages in Israel. However, progressive religious denominations have been refused recognition in the confessional community system.

Same-sex marriages performed abroad can be recorded at the Israeli Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, according to a 2006 High Court of Justice ruling which defined such records as strictly 'for statistical purposes', thereby avoiding official recognition of same-sex marriages by the state.[1]

Notwithstanding the nonavailability of same-sex marriage (or civil marriage, for that matter) in Israel, unmarried same-sex and heterosexual couples in Israel have equal access to nearly all of the rights of marriage in the form of unregistered cohabitation status, akin to common-law marriage. In 2013, the Yesh Atid party, a member of the governing coalition, introduced a bill that would provide for civil marriage for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. [2]

Attitudes[edit]

According to a poll conducted in August 2009, 61% of Israelis supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, with 31% opposed.[3] Furthermore, 60% supported joint adoption by same-sex couples, with 34% opposed.[3]

Political system[edit]

The following political parties in the Israeli parliament have expressed support for same-sex marriage:[4] Yesh Atid, Labor, Hatnuah, Meretz and Hadash. Support for the right of same-sex couples to marry has also been expressed by members of the government and members of parliament, including President Shimon Peres,[5] Vice Prime Minister, Moshe Ya'alon of the governing Likud party,[6][7] Leader of the Opposition and head of Israeli Labor Party, Shelly Yachimovich, and many other ministers an parliament members of both coalition and opposition.[8][9]

In February 2009 Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz (from the left wing Meretz party) introduced a civil marriage bill which included provision for same-sex marriages.[10] The bill was rejected in May 2012 in a 39 to 11 vote, with 70 not attending.[11]

Following the General Elections of 2013, two same-sex marriage supporting parties entered the governing coalition: Yesh Atid and Hatnua. In June 2013, Hatnuah MKs, led by Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni introduced a bill that would provide for civil marriage in Israel for both heterosexual and homosexual couples.[12] In October 2013, Yesh Atid MKs, led by Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, introduced a similar bill. [13]

Marriage in Israel[edit]

The religious authority for Jewish marriages is the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and there are parallel authorities for Christians, Muslims and Druze with a total of 15 religious courts. These regulate all marriages and divorces for their own communities. Currently they all oppose same-sex marriages. If the views of one of these bodies were to change, however, it would be legal for members of that religious community to enter into same-sex marriages in Israel.

Same-sex wedding ceremonies without legal significance can be conducted in Israel,[14] which, coupled with legally recognized foreign marriages, allows for both same-sex wedding ceremonies in Israel and legal recognition of same-sex marriages in Israel, on condition that the marriage certificates come from another country. The first unofficial municipal wedding took place in August 2009 following the Tel Aviv Pride Parade; five couples were married by Mayor Ron Huldai. The traditional verse for wedding ceremonies from Psalm 137, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither..." was used, but replacing "Jerusalem" with "Tel Aviv," Israel's most gay-friendly city.[15][16]

Foreign same-sex marriages[edit]

On November 21, 2006 the High Court of Justice ruled that the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration must record same-sex marriages performed abroad. The case was filed by five male Israeli couples married in Canada. The ruling specifies that a record made by the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration is a statistical record which does not constitute official recognition of same-sex marriage by the state.[1]

Moshe Gafni, a Haredi MK, said that he would consider presenting a bill to the Knesset to attempt to overturn the court ruling. No such bill has been presented.

In December of 2012, a Ramat Gan Family court granted a same-sex married couple a legal divorce.[17] This was a first decision of its kind, setting a non-binding precedent.

Rights of same-sex couples[edit]

Same-sex couples in Israel enjoy most of the rights of married couples, as do unmarried heterosexual couples.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Israeli Minister backs down on definition of marriage". 
  2. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/world/middleeast/centrist-party-in-israel-introduces-civil-union-bill.html
  3. ^ a b "Three-in-Five Israelis Back Same-Sex Marriage". Angus Reid Public Opinion. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  4. ^ 2013 Elections: Which parties support same-sex marriage?, Channel 2 News, January 8th, 2013 (Hebrew)
  5. ^ President Peres supports same-sex marriage: "Everybody has the right to form a family", ynet, December 1st, 2013 (Hebrew)
  6. ^ Minister Ya'alon: "Same-sex Marriage should be allowed in Israel, Globes, May 14th, 2012 (Hebrew)
  7. ^ Ya'alon supports recognition of same-sex marriage, Jerusalem Post, May 14th, 2012
  8. ^ Israeli Gay community congratulates Obama on his announcement, Ha'aretz, May 10th, 2012 (Hebrew)
  9. ^ Obama gay marriage remarks spark debate among Israeli MKs, ministers, Ha'aretz, May 11th, 2012
  10. ^ Israeli Knesset To Consider Gay Marriage
  11. ^ Israeli parliament rejects gay and inter-faith civil marriage bill
  12. ^ Livni to sponsor groundbreaking Knesset bill allowing same-sex civil partnership
  13. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/world/middleeast/centrist-party-in-israel-introduces-civil-union-bill.html
  14. ^ "Same-Sex Marriage in Tel Aviv". Tablet. 
  15. ^ Kraft, Dina (June 16, 2009). "Can gay friendliness boost Israel’s image?". JTA. 
  16. ^ Mitnick, Joshua (August 4, 2009). "Gay Israelis reeling after shooting attack". JTA. 
  17. ^ "In precedent-setting ruling, court allows gay couple to untie the knot".