Same-Sex Couples

The status of same-sax couples in Israel is not satisfactory. However, despite the difficulties, one can point out many privileges that same-sex couples have in all aspects of life and especially within the family. For more information please continue reading.

Legal milestones regarding same-sex couples

The right of same-sex couples to have a relationship and family life in Israel has been though quite a few legal founding events.

In the past, it was considered a criminal offence to have homosexual intercourse. This was changed and banished in the late seventies of the past century.  In the beginning of the third millennium it was ruled that female same-sex couples could be registered in Israel as parents to a child conceived with artificial insemination in a forging country (Brener Kadish affair). Later, the Supreme Court recognized and enabled same-sex couples who were married in a forging country to register as married in Israel. (Ben Ari affair). Over the years many more decisions were given which increased to “pool of rights” enjoyed by same-sex couples. In this article, I have chosen to present a small and important part of these rights.

Marriage between same-sex couples

In Israel, marriage and divorce can be held according to the personal-religion law of the couple and the sole right to rule in matters of marriage and divorce is in the religious courts (according to each official religion in Israel). When it comes to Jews, the authority is in the hands of the Rabbinic court. As a result, the law that regulates marriage and divorce in this court is the Jewish law – the Halacha, with all its implications. Amongst others, the Halacha does not recognize same-sex marriages so the operational meaning is that same-sex couples cannot marry in Israel.

However, during the years, the Supreme Court has recognized and enabled the option to marry in a forging country, as long as that country recognizes the validity of the marriage. Later, the couple can register in the Ministry of Intern as married. This option exists for same-sex couples and couples of different sexes who cannot marry in Israel.

Same-sex couples starting a family

One other question regarding same-sex couples is the right to start a family. Nowadays, same-sex couples have this right, to start a family and parents together, despite the biological limitation of conceiving.

One way of starting a family is by using a surrogate mother. Another way (for women) is by artificial insemination and of course the couple can adopt children, although this option is not wide spread. The court ruled that one spouse can adopt the other spouse’s children, as well as both spouses adopting a child together.

Alimony between same-sex couples

One extra question that arises when it comes to same-sex couples is the question of alimony. Let me clarify – the payment of alimony is the obligation of the father, enforced by the personal-religious law. But, since the Rabbinic court does not recognize same-sex couples and, when it comes to two male partners, it is difficult to point at the father, it is a social and moral duty which should be enforced on the parent who is not the custodial parent. This obligation is anchored in a contract and not enforced by religious law, due to the facts described above. If the family court rules that the spouse had indeed an integral part in the raising of the child, and if the child was conceived (by artificial insemination, adoption or surrogate) with the spouse’s will and cooperation, that spouse will be obliged to pay alimony, if the couple part.

To sum:

The right to marry and raise a family is fundamental. Unfortunately, when it comes to same-sex couples this right is not obvious and not implied in the best way. However, there is no doubt that, as time passes, advance has been in the Israeli law, due to experienced and brave family lawyers, as well as other reasons. If you have encountered discrimination or you would like to realize your rights as a same-sex couple, we recommend that you consult with an experienced family lawyer.