Israel’s High Court Slams State’s Behavior in Two Gay Parenthood Cases

In one, the court ordered the state to show cause for refusing to register both members of a same-sex couple as parents of an adopted child on the child’s birth certificate

Orly and Ravit Weiselberg-Zur during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, July 2018
Tomer Appelbaum

The High Court of Justice issued two instructions to the state on Wednesday in two separate cases involving the rights of same-sex parents. In one, the court ordered the state to show cause for refusing to register both members of a same-sex couple as parents of an adopted child on the child’s birth certificate. In the other, the state was instructed to inform the court within a month whether it would to ease restrictions on lesbian couples to allow both women to appear as mother on the birth certificate of a child.

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In the adoption case, the court called the state’s position unreasonable and said that if the state did not respond satisfactorily in 30 days, it would order the policy changed. The High Court ruling comes after earlier this week Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit informed the court that he supports the registration of same-sex adoptive parents in a child’s birth certificate, a position Interior Minister Arye Dery opposes.

In the case of lesbian couples, the High Court criticized a demand by the Interior Ministry that lesbian couples only be both declared mothers by a judicial process. In response to the petition brought by Orly and Ravit Weiselberg-Zur, the justices said a declaration to the Interior Ministry should be sufficient in most cases.

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The attorney for the state, Nahi Ben-Or, told the court the state was unwilling to take “shortcuts” in registration of parenthood.

In the case of the petition seeking to register both adoptive parents in a gay household as a child’s parents, Justice Neal Hendel asked why the state would issue a “parenthood order” for a gay adoptive couple, but would not register both adoptive parents on their child’s birth certificate, The attorney for the state responded that on a birth certificate there is little room for exceptional cases – and the state considers parenthood by surrogacy or adoption as exceptional.