The Interior Ministry must recognize the overseas adoptions of same-sex couples, the state said yesterday.

The state prosecution told the High Court of Justice that it would tell the ministry's Population Registry to recognize such adoptions as long as the couple presents a valid adoption certificate from a foreign country.

"This is another step toward equality and the abolition of discrimination toward same-sex couples," said MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz-Yahad). "The time has come for the state to recognize these couples, just as it recognizes the adoptions of heterosexual couples."

The prosecution's announcement yesterday was part of a High Court deliberation on the state's request for another hearing on a 2000 ruling that required the state to register two women - Nicole and Ruthie Brenner-Kadish - as the mothers of a boy who was born to one of the partners and adopted by the other in California.

But although the Interior Ministry did register the boy as the son of both women, it refused to register the couple's two other children, who were also adopted by one of the partners abroad. The justices slammed the state prosecution yesterday for the Interior Ministry's failure to adhere to the ruling set seven years ago.

"This is outrageous," said Dan Yakir, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel attorney representing the Brenner-Kadish family. "A ruling from 2000 hasn't been upheld and the couple's two other children are still registered as the children of one mother."

Osnat Mandel, the attorney representing the state, said it had been decided in deliberations held before former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak that the 2000 ruling would apply only to cases that came before the court, pending the final verdict in the additional hearing.

However, the court advised the prosecution to rescind its request for another hearing. Mandel requested two weeks to submit the state's response.

The state wants to compel all couples who have adopted children abroad to have the adoption approved in an Israeli court, which it says is in accordance with the law on enforcing foreign rulings. Only then would the Population Registry be allowed to register the adoption.

"It's a paradox: Precisely as the [Knesset] constitution committee is debating the principle of equality, the court is being asked to censure the state, which is doing all it can to obstruct gays and lesbians from establishing a family," said Mike Hamel, who heads the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association.