The Ministerial Committee for Legislation may agree at its Sunday meeting to support a bill which will for the first time recognize gay and lesbian couples as parents for the purpose of receiving guaranteed income benefits.
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The proposed law, presented by MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) with the support of Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz, stipulates that immediate exemption from employment testing will be granted to one of two same-sex parents, and benefits can be transferred to the account of women and not men, as in the existing law.
Meanwhile, MK Amir Ohana (Likud) and Katz (Likud) have agreed to significantly augment the budget for the psychological and social services provided to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. The service was established following the 2009 murder at the Bar Noar LGBT center in Tel Aviv, and deals with suicide and other problems encountered by members of the community. Ohana, who is openly gay, was subjected to sharp criticism last week for being absent from votes on opposition party bills designed to advance the community.
Imri Kalman, chairman of The Aguda - the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, spoke with Ohana and told him that the service is in dire straits, requiring additional funds. Ohana appealed to the social affairs minister, who decided to increase the budget to 400,000 shekels (just over $100,000) a year, almost double its current level.
Sources in the community expressed doubts as to whether the increased budget would be implemented. “Funding for this service is done through matching. For every shekel the government gives, the association needs to find one as well. The association has no money, so matching is not feasible and a real increase in budget is unlikely.”
Other sources involved in the agreement between Ohana and Katz refuted these claims, saying that “the transfer of money is not contingent on fund matching.”