Israeli Ministers Agrees to Repeal Law That Bans Adoptees From Speaking Out

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Kulanu MK Yifat Sassa Biton
Kulanu MK Yifat Sassa BitonCredit: Knesset spokesperson

Israeli adoptees will no longer be violating the law when they reveal in public that they are adopted.

The members of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation yesterday approved the cancellation of a clause in the Adoption Law that prohibits Israeli adoptees from publicizing that fact. At present, in order to avoid violating the law, people who are adopted have to contend with a convoluted legal-bureaucratic process in order to receive a court's permission to go public.

Clause 34 of the Adoption Law, which was passed in 1960 and amended in 1981, rules that it is a criminal offense that carries a punishment of up to six months’ imprisonment for an adopted child or an adoptive parent to reveal this fact in public. The clause cites the desire to protect the privacy of the biological and adoptive parents.

The bill to cancel that clause was sponsored by MKs Yifat Shasha-Biton and Eli Alalouf, both of Kulanu. It transfers responsibility from the courts to the adoptee and it comes in the wake of a campaign by Israeli adoptees to repeal the clause.

“The time has come to put an end to the silencing," said Shasha-Biton on Sunday. "No more keeping people from talking. We will no longer force adoptees to feel ashamed.” Shasha-Biton said that “the amendment tries to focus on the good of the child, his right to speak and his freedom to accept his identity. The law will enable adoptees to speak fully and openly about their identity, and will enable them to live their lives as they choose.”

Liat Bell Sommer, an adoptee who has been active in the struggle to repeal the law. "I am not a secret or a cause of shame," reads the banner at the bottom of her Facebook page.Credit: Facebook

Liat Bell Sommer, an adoptee and one of the leaders of the struggle to amend the law, said that “this is a historic day for adoptees. Finally we’ll be able to talk about ourselves with pride, without being considered lawbreakers.This is definitely an important step in a country that prides itself on freedom of expression.”

According to the explanation of the draft bill, it is attempting “to adapt itself to the present era and to repair the injustice of a situation in which children who come from a sperm bank are allowed to talk about [the facts of] their existence, while adopted children are forced to mainly an oppressive silence under the aegis of the law.”

Alalouf, a co-sponsor of the bill, is himself an adoptive father. He and his wife adopted their son from Romania 25 years ago. In order to reveal this fact, he had to invoke his parliamentary immunity — something that will be unnecessary once Clause 34 of the Adoption Law is formally annulled.

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