Court: Israel Must Recognize Brazilian as Mom of Her Female Partner's Kids

Family court judge accepted women's claim of discrimination and stressed importance of benefit to children.

In this Sept. 3, 2014, file photo, Ariel David, of New Orleans, who is gay, plays with a pride flag wide with her biological daughter Nelly David, 2, during a rally in favor of same-sex marriage.
Gerald Herbert/AP

A Petah Tikva court has ordered the government to formally recognize a Brazilian citizen as the mother of the children of her female Israeli partner, who became pregnant through a sperm donation. Prior to the ruling last week in the family court, the state had refused to recognize the foreign woman’s status as the mother, saying she might simply be exploiting her situation in order to receive permanent residency status in Israel.

The two women have been in a relationship for five years and signed a domestic-union agreement, which was approved by the court, before the birth of their 6-month-old twins. They made it clear that the children were born thanks to a joint decision by both of them, and claimed the government was trying to split them up because they are gay.

In the case of a similar heterosexual couple in Israel that used a sperm donation, the state recognized the father based simply on a declaration, without any connection to his residency status in the country, the women’s lawyer explained to the court.

Judge Yocheved Greenwald-Rand accepted the request by the Brazilian and her partner and ordered the state to register the foreign citizen, too, as the mother of the children from the day they were born.

In light of the women’s excellent parental capabilities, which were never in doubt, the judge wrote in her decision, she felt it was appropriate that both be called mothers by their children – and by everyone else as well.

Greenwald-Rand also accepted the women's claims that they had suffered discrimination, and said she found no justification for the government’s opposition to their request, because the difference between gay and heterosexual couples is irrelevant in such a case.

The judge added the Brazilian woman’s residency status and citizenship had no relevance to the question of parenthood, because the state’s fears that she was seeking recognition of her parentage so she could claim local residency even if the couple split up in the future was much less important than granting her status as a parent.

Not granting that status would actually hurt the children in the event that the Brazilian citizen was not granted permanent residence, Greenwald-Rand explained, because in such a case the woman would no longer have any legal responsibility to the children, including payment of child support, and could cut off contact with them. Therefore, as far as the children are concerned, it is to their advantage for the woman’s status to be determined in a legal manner, she added.

Recognizing the Brazilian woman as the minors’ mother would therefore “force” her to continue to shoulder her parental obligations to them until they are adults, without any connection to the question of residency and citizenship – even in the event that she leaves the country at some point, the judge said. All the parties involved will only benefit from such a decision, chief among them the children, Greenwald-Rand stated.