Israel to Give LGBTQ Parents Three More Months to Establish Parental Status

The landmark ruling, which is mainly directed toward parents using surrogacy or sperm donors, doubles duration of time permitted to apply for parental status from three to six months

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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A gay pride rally in Jerusalem, June 28, 2020.
A gay pride rally in Jerusalem, June 28, 2020.Credit: Oren Bar Hakon
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

LGBTQ parents will be given a crucial extra three months to establish their legal status as parents, the Israeli justice and welfare ministries announced on Thursday, marking the latest in a wave of rulings expanding parental rights for the LGBTQ community in Israel.

The new verdict, revealed by Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn from Kahol Lavan and Labor and Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli of the Labor party, is intended for parents using surrogate mothers or sperm donors, and will extend the length of time to apply for a parental order to six months.

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A parenting order establishes a parenting relationship in the absence of a biological affinity between the parents and the child. Since Israel lacks a law regulating the registration of non-biological parents, the parenting order is a legal tool fashioned as a default in such situations. The attorney general has established the criteria for the registration process for LGBTQ couples, which he based on a Supreme Court ruling. 

LGBTQ organizations have complained for years that this practice has been harsher on homosexual couples relative to their heterosexual counterparts.

The measure is meant to give them breathing room to arrange their parental status with the state. Many parents have had difficulty submitting the request within three months because of postnatal complications like preemies or significant health problems, and also issues arising from bureaucracy related to using surrogate mothers or sperm donors.

In 2018, the two ministries set up a team to reexamine the process. LGBTQ organizations argued that the registration process should be simple and identical to that of heterosexual parents, but the team rejected their main points.

Nissenkorn and Shmuli asked the team two months ago to reconsider extending the deadline. “Family is family, and every parent deserves to receive the state’s official recognition as a parent in an equal manner and regardless of religion, race, sex or sexual orientation,” Nissenkorn told Haaretz.

“It’s an important and brave step based on the recognition of LGBTQ parenthood as natural, and not something dubious that needs to face endless obstacles. An inflexible and exhausting process for legal recognition of parenthood is liable to establish a discriminatory and twisted perception of genetic parenthood as superior and natural,” Shmuli, who is openly gay, added.

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