Gay Rights Group Alleges Discrimination, Protests Against Judge Who Wouldn't Let Twins Into Israel

A gay rights advocacy group filed a complaint yesterday against the judge who handled the case of a gay man stranded in India with the twins he fathered, who were born to a surrogate mother there.

Jonathan Ger, who heads the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, submitted a letter of protest on the group's behalf to the judiciary ombudsman, former Supreme Court justice Eliezer Goldberg, accusing Family Court Judge Philip Marcus of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"We are appealing to you with a heavy heart and from a sense of humiliation and grievous harm caused by a Jerusalem Family Court judge," wrote Ger, whose complaint also accused Marcus of discriminating against two other gay fathers attempting to bring their children into the country from India.

"Disturbingly, these three fathers of children who were born via surrogacy are discriminated against in a legal proceeding solely due to their sexual preferences," the complaint said.

The twins - a boy and girl born to an Indian woman who was serving as a surrogate mother for the father, Dan Goldberg, and his partner - were denied entry to Israel because Marcus ruled that he did not have the authority to approve the paternity test that would allow the children to become Israeli citizens. Goldberg and his children have since arrived in the country.

In all three cases cited in the complaint, Marcus said he did not have the authority to approve a paternity test for children born to surrogate mothers from India, even though other Israeli judges have routinely authorized the test for dozens of other gay couples.

In the Goldberg hearing, Marcus said if one of the men seeking to raise the children turns out to be "a pedophile or serial killer, these are things that the state must examine."

Marcus' ruling left Goldberg stranded in a Mumbai hotel with the babies, Itai and Liron, until Goldberg won the case on appeal. Media reports of the case sparked outrage last month, and prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to instruct the Interior Ministry to "relax the law" and permit the family to return to the country.