Homosexual Couples Fight for Right to Surrogate Pregnancy

Same-sex couples who seek to bring children into the world this way are forced to do so abroad, mainly in India and the United States, at a cost that is often prohibitively high.

Same-sex couples are intensifying their struggle to win the right to surrogate pregnancy.

About 150 members of the gay community participated in a conference at the gay center in Tel Aviv yesterday to advance the issue through various means, including a petition, street protests and increasing the number of requests to the Health Ministry committee that authorizes surrogacy.

According to Israeli law, only heterosexual couples are authorized to undergo the surrogacy procedure. Same-sex couples who seek to bring children into the world this way are forced to do so abroad, mainly in India and the United States, at a cost that is often prohibitively high. Even those that do undergo a surrogacy procedure abroad face obstacles when they attempt to register their children as Jews in the Population Registry.

In the wake of a petition to the High Court of Justice by the couple Itai Pinkas and Yoav Arad, the government announced 18 months ago the establishment of a committee to examine the matters of fertility and birth, including surrogacy. Pinkas and Arad agreed to delay the hearings on their petition until the committee, headed by Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, releases its recommendations. After the petition had already been filed, two daughters, Gal and Noa, were born to the couple through a surrogacy procedure performed in India.

In recent weeks a campaign for the right of same-sex couples to become parents has begun.

A few weeks ago, Moshe Laniado and Gal Peleg, a couple from Tel Aviv, launched a campaign for the right of same-sex couples to become parents. The two posted a video on the Internet showing two men playing with a little girl who is taken away from them by men dressed in black. They called on surfers to sign a petition in favor of surrogacy for single-sex couples in Israel. More than 5,000 people have signed to date.

"We were shocked that such a crassly discriminatory law could exist in a democracy," Laniado said. "Our goal is to send a message to people on the committee that a large segment of the population wants to become parents, and not [go through the process] outside Israel."

At the conference this week Tel Aviv City Council member Yaniv Weitzman (Rov HaIr ), who serves as the mayor's advisor on the gay community, said, "The goal is clear: We must increase the number of signatures on the petition, in order to support the committee."

The community will step up their campaign if the committee does not authorize surrogacy for same-sex couples, said Laniado.