Israel's High Court Rejects Petition to Recognize Same-sex Marriages

The court said withholding LGBT marriage is not illegal, and that any amendment to be considered is a matter for the legislature, not the courts

Left-wing political party Meretz stages a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples, 2015.
File photo: Left-wing political party Meretz stages a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples, 2015. Moti Milrod

On Thursday, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition made by the LGBT Association, which demanded the state recognize same-sex marriages.

The court justices held that Israel's practice of not recognizing same-sex marriages does not contravene the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty. Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Anat Baron and Neal Hendel added that any amendment pertaining to the Basic Law was the responsibility of the legislature, not the courts.
 
According to Justice Baron, "the complex issue of civil marriage recognition cannot be solved only though providing protection of economic and social rights. A status [of marriage] gives legal validity to the conjugal relationship and expresses social recognition of the relationship between two persons, and therefore has a broader meaning than the sum of the other economic and other rights deriving from it."

As such, preventing marriage from certain groups of the population sends a message of inequality and "moral inferiority," she said.

Baron noted that the petition did make an important point, that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage in Israel entails the infringement of fundamental rights.
 
In the first hearing of the petition last January, the judges expressed empathy for the LGBT couples, but refrained from taking a stand on the issue. Then too the judges expressed the opinion that the issue was one to be dealt with by the legislature, not the courts.