Ministers Approve Inheritance Rights for Same-sex Couples

Cabinet ministers from Hatnuah, Yesh Atid and Likud vote in favor of the change, while ministers from Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu oppose it.

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Tzipi Livni.
Tzipi Livni.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday an amendment to the Inheritance Law that would allow members of a same-sex couple to include each other in their wills. Cabinet ministers from Hatnuah, Yesh Atid and Likud voted in favor of the change, while ministers from Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu opposed it.

At present, the Inheritance Law applies only to married couples, which are defined as a man and a woman living as a family in a joint household. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who was behind the amendment, said she wanted to change the wording of the law so that it would apply to partners who conduct family life in a joint household, a formulation that would include same-sex couples. The Inheritance Law was legislated in 1965, but Israeli society has progressed and is much more inclusive, Livni said, adding, Families in 2014 are much more varied than they were in the 1960s, making it only proper that the relevant laws be changed accordingly.

In the past several months, Habayit Hayehudi managed to shoot down a series of laws that sought to grant official recognition to same-sex couples and to advance LGBT rights in Israel. Housing Minister Uri Ariel in March blocked a bill allowing single people and same-sex couples to use surrogate mothers in Israel. Ariel claimed the bill posed an ethical and moral question about how a family in the State of Israel is meant to look.

His party and Yisrael Beiteinu made it clear in recent months that they would block bills proposed by Yesh Atid and Hatnuah to allow civil unions in Israel if the legislation would include recognition of same-sex couples.

But the coalition did promote bills giving equal status to the children of same-sex couples.

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