Homosexual Partner Deserves Full Widow's Pension, Court Rules

Woman sued Mivtahim insurance fund demanding increased compensation stipend given widows, but not widowers.

The Haifa Labor Court recently decided to recognize a woman whose female life partner had died as a widow, and therefore ordered her insurance company, Mivtahim Pension Funds, to pay the petitioner a full widow's pension.

The petitioner's partner, Or Lefler, died in 2004. She was survived by a daughter that she and her partner had adopted. The petitioner then requested that the court recognize the girl as an as an orphan and herself as a widow.

Mivtahim, however, was prepared to pay the petitioner only half the normal widow's pension, arguing that she should be entitled only to the rights granted widowers, who receive pensions that are 50 percent less than those of widows.

Attorney Dori Spivak of the Human Rights Program at Tel Aviv University, representing the petitioner, argued in the petition that surviving partners should be classified according to their gender, not the gender of the deceased.

He based his argument on a legal precedent involving a homosexual male who wanted the National Insurance Institute to grant him a widower's pension after the death of his partner.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz recommended that the state grant the petitioner this right, and his position was accepted by the Tel Aviv Labor Court, which ruled in favor of the petitioner.

In the most recent case, the Haifa court accepted the petitioner's claim that she and her adopted daughter should receive the same compensation as any other widow and orphan. Judge Itta Katzir rejected Mivtahim's claim that the legal precedent did not apply, because it is a commercial company, whereas the National Insurance Institute is a government institution.

Mivtahim has appealed to the High Court of Justice against a previous and related ruling by the National Labor Court, which determined that widows and widowers should be entitled to the same compensation, and that survivors' pensions should be the same for both genders. This petition will be heard next June by an expanded bench of seven justices.