Israeli Ministry Official Defends State's Anti-gay Adoption Policy

Labor and Social Services Ministry director general has claimed critics of the policy “weren’t interested in studying the complexity involved in decisions about the adoption of minors”

An Israeli man waves a rainbow flag during a demonstration in Tel Aviv against an Israeli government ban on adoptions by same-sex couples, July 20, 2017.

Avigdor Kaplan, director general of the Labor and Social Services Ministry, has criticized those slamming the policy against allowing same-sex couples to adopt, saying they “weren’t interested in studying the complexity involved in decisions about the adoption of minors.”

In a letter circulated recently to ministry employees, Kaplan wrote, “I doubt if anyone who attacked the ministry’s position read the detailed document that was submitted, or was interested in studying the complexity involved in decisions about the adoption of minors, and to go into the detailed considerations that are the basis for these decisions, before attacking the professional position.”

Udi Ledergor, chairman of the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, was critical of Kaplan’s letter. “I understand the desire of the ministry director-general to back a veteran employee of his ministry, but the bottom line is we’re talking about the continuous misleading of the public, contrary to all the rules of professional ethics. Is there something that the ‘professional entities in the ministry’ know that the Israel Psychiatric Association, the Israel Psychological Association, the Social Workers Association and other professional bodies whose professional authority is not in doubt, don’t know?”

Hen Arieli, chairman of the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association, joined the criticism. “Kaplan is misusing his role as an official in the civil service and proves yet again that the position of the ministry, despite the minister’s declaration, continues to be an arrogant and homophobic position,” Arieli said.

In response to a petition against the state on this issue, the Social Affairs Ministry and the Justice Ministry two weeks ago submitted a position paper to the High Court of Justice that said the state objects to adoption by same-sex couples because same-sex families are irregular and liable to “impose an additional burden on the child.” Following public criticism, Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz’s’ office issued a statement apologizing for its wording, adding “The minister has no intention of restricting or withholding the right to adopt from any group, including LGBT persons.” 

Katz asked the court for three months to reevaluate the issue of adoption by same-sex couples. The court gave the state a month and a half.