Israel's High Court Orders Words 'To Marry' Removed From Ad for Same-sex Couples’ Rights

The court held that, since same-sex marriage is a controversial subject in Israel, the nonprofit behind the ad will have to content itself with supporting 'the right to love'

File photo: SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 6: Jane Abbott Lighty, left, and Pete-e Petersen embrace after receiving the first same-sex marriage license in Washington state, U.S., December 6, 2012.

The High Court of Justice ordered the words “to marry” to be deleted from the sentence “the right to love, to marry even if I'm gay” from a television broadcast by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The ACRI had petitioned the court after its ad had been banned from airing.

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, joined in his opinion by justices Anat Baron and Hanan Melcer, justified the decision on the grounds that same-sex marriage is a controversial issue in Israel. In contrast to the right to love and live as they please, Rubinstein wrote, the public – let alone the Knesset members and members of government – seem to remain divided over the right to marry another person of the same sex. He added that same-sex marriage is not recognized in Israel.

The Second Broadcast Authority that nixed the ACRI ad focused on the words “even if I’m gay,” Rubinstein wrote. He believes those words should stay but the words “to marry” should be removed. “In fact, the battle over same-sex marriage is part of the battle for civil marriage,” he wrote: In Israel, marriage and divorce are governed by registered religions, and civil marriage is not possible.

ACRI's ad (in Hebrew) ACRI

Baron agreed in her opinion that the statement “the right to love and marry whomever I choose” conveys a controversial message. But she feels the controversial issue is the religious monopoly over marriage and divorce in Israel. “The right to marry and to conduct a family life is also a basic right arising from human dignity. Yet the situation in Israel today is that not everyone can marry whom they choose,” she wrote. “Absent an arrangement for civil marriage, whole groups are cut off from the institution of marriage.” This applies not only to same-sex couples, but to those who are not eligible for marriage under one of Israel's acknowledged religions, such as people with no religion, or people of different religions who want to marry.

Last year, the ad calling for marriage equality between same-sex and opposite-sex couples and which also supported the speaking of Arabic in Israel was aired on Channel 2 until the Second Broadcast Authority pulled it, saying parts were controversial and should be deleted.

The ACRI argued that the right to “love and marry whomever I want, even if I’m gay” and “the right to speak Arabic without fear” are not controversial, with which the court agreed.