Gay Fathers in Surrogacy Process Overseas Petition High Court to Help Them Return to Israel

New rules in the U.S. and Canada mean at least 17 gay couples are unable to obtain the necessary travel documents to bring their surrogate children back to Israel

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Passengers at Ben Gurion International Airport, Lod, Israel, March 5, 2020.
Returning Israeli passengers at Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel. March 5, 2020Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Seventeen gay male couples going through the surrogacy processes in the United States and Canada on Sunday petitioned an Israeli court to order the government to issue travel documents for their infants born overseas so that they can return with them to Israel.

The petitioners told the Court for Administrative Affairs in Tel Aviv that because of the U.S. government’s new COVID-19 measures, they are unable to receive passports for the children and thus unable to leave the U.S. New bureaucratic rules in Canada because of the virus have made it similarly difficult for parents to receive travel documents for their children.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 72

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The petitioners asked the court to order the Interior Ministry to approve the issuance of emergency Israeli travel documents for each Israeli infant born in the United States and Canada through surrogacy. “Instead of the country enlisting to help each of the couples to enter [Israel] quickly with their children, it finds appropriate, in the situation of a global crisis, to take no action and avoid providing a solution to the Israeli infants,” the couples’ lawyers wrote.

Hila Peer, the chairwoman of The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, said: “After the country prevented them from becoming parents in Israel, it is preventing them from returning and abandoning them in an emergency to the mercy of the health systems in foreign countries. We will do everything in our power to return the gay families home.”

Julien Bahloul, the spokesman for the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, called on the government to take action. “The babies and the parents are in mortal danger. Israel has the obligation to enable the return of its citizens immediately and to halt its unnecessary bureaucracy that is preventing the entry of these Israeli infants to Israel,” he said.

In December 2018, the government informed the High Court of Justice that it had decided not to allow gay male couples to go through surrogacy procedures in Israel – in response to an earlier petition filed by the Gay Dads association. The state justified this decision in part by saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu felt it was politically unfeasible to pass legislation to allow such surrogacy arrangements at the time.

Last month, the High Court ruled that same-sex couples and single fathers must be allowed to undertake surrogacy arrangements in Israel. In a unanimous decision, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, along with Justices Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel wrote, “The sweeping exclusion of homosexual men from the use of surrogacy is viewed as ‘suspicious’ discrimination, suggesting that this part of the population is inferior.” The state was given one year to amend the relevant law.

A protest against the passing of a law that gay people cannot have children via surrogacy, Tel Aviv, July 22, 2018Credit: Moti Milrod

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