Editorial

The State v. LGBT Families

The state's objection to adoption by same-sex couples is another chapter in the state’s abuse of LGBT families

File photo: Israelis march during the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv Israel Friday, June 9, 2017.
File photo: Israelis march during the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv Israel Friday, June 9, 2017. Sebastian Scheiner/AP

The state’s submission to the High Court of Justice objecting to adoptions by same-sex couples on grounds that such families are “irregular,” and that being part of one is liable “to impose an extra burden on the child,” is another chapter in the state’s abuse of LGBT families.

This position is a regression from the opinion of former attorney general Menahem Mazuz, now a Supreme Court justice, who in 2008 said there is no legal barrier preventing a same-sex couple from adopting a foreign child, subject to what’s in the child’s best interest. This position, however, did not lead to a change in policy, and in only three cases were a same-sex couple permitted to adopt a child who was not the biological child of one of them.

While Israel likes to boast abroad about the recognition and rights it gives its gay community, in fact it never misses an opportunity to place obstacles in LGBT couples’ path to parenthood. Its opposition on the adoption issue follows a series of positions the state has taken in four different cases that show a clear trend.

In one case still before the High Court, the state objects to allowing two women to register the non-biological mother of the child as the baby’s parent immediately after the birth, instead insisting on a legal procedure. In another case the state is objecting to the issuance of a corrected birth certificate listing two parents of the same gender. A third case finds the state objecting to same-sex couples making surrogacy arrangements in Israel, although heterosexual couples may do so, and in a fourth case the state is insisting that transsexual men who give birth must have their gender relisted temporarily as “female” for the purpose of registering them as parents, unless they go through a special approvals procedure before the birth.

In a ruling in 2004 on recognition of same-sex couples, former Family Court Judge Yehuda Granit expressed regret that the attorney general at the time took a position that was incongruent with contemporary reality and was not upholding the principle of equality. Unfortunately, despite the years that have passed, Granit’s remarks are still relevant.

Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz said on Monday he was disappointed by the “poor wording” of his ministry’s position as submitted to the court, and made it clear he was not seeking to prevent or deny LGBT couples the ability to adopt. If his reservation is sincere, it should be backed by a 180-degree change in policy.

It would behoove the state to adopt an equitable position regarding LGBT parenthood and agree to the demands of the petitioners in the various related cases.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.