IDF Recognizes Gay Reservists’ Rights as Parents

Now it’s official: Army will allow same-sex couples not to both be called up for reserve duty at the same time.

Gili Cohen
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A gay couple and their child at a conference on surrogacy in Tel Aviv.Credit: David Bachar
Gili Cohen

The IDF has officially changed its regulations, and now same-sex partners who have both been called up for reserve duty at the same time can ask for one of them to have their service postponed – like partners of the opposite sex – whether they are legally married or not. The regulations for the “committee for coordinating reserve service” were changed recently, and now apply to any couples living together as a family with children, including those in common-law marriages.

The new regulations, which were distributed this week to all IDF commanders, state that any couples recognized by the National Insurance Institute as raising a child together – whether listed as in the custody of one or both parents – can now officially ask the committee for a postponement of service if both partners are to be called up at the same time for reserve duty.

But the new regulations still discriminate against male and female single parents: A single parent mother with children under age 18 who is required to do reserve duty (usually women in such professions as doctors or who serve as flight crews) can also ask the committee for a postponement and receive it without any conditions. But Haaretz has learned that for single fathers such approval is not automatic, and every case is dealt with individually.

Organizations representing the reservists praised the change.

Michal Eden, a lawyer who specializes in LGTB law, says the new rules are progress in opening the IDF to the gay community, but the reliance on the criteria of the National Insurance Institute for “common-law marriage” is problematic. There are many couples who choose not to register with the NII, she says. “Because the rights of men and women are not equal in the National Insurance Institute, the couple can suffer damage.”

Eden says she would expect the IDF to require an affidavit from the couple to recognize them instead.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said reservists will continue to be handled first through their commanders, who are the address for every problem with a summons to reserve duty.