Israeli Lawmaker Slams Surrogacy for Same-sex Couples: 'We Won't Be a World Leader in Deviancy'

MKs call religious lawmaker a homophobe during heated debate in Knesset committee over proposals to allow single women and same-sex parents to contract local surrogacy services

MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) during a discussion in a Knesset committee in October, 2014.
Michal Fattal

MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) told Knesset committee on Monday that Israel “would not be a world leader in deviancy” – referring to legislation that would permit same-sex parents to benefit from surrogacy services in the country.

The Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee was debating a bill that would, among other things, expand the circle of people permitted to use surrogacy services to single women who are unable to become pregnant. Lawmakers and representatives of the LGBT community are in general pushing for same-sex couples – and not just heterosexual ones, as is the case now – to be allowed to benefit from surrogacy.

In response to their demands, Yogev said that “your chances of overpowering the Jewish people are nil,” whereupon MK Michal Biran (Labor) called the religious lawmaker a homophobe.

MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) asked Yogev to retract the word "deviancy," asserting, “We’re not in the Dark Ages." Yogev apologized, saying that “the Torah and Judaism are the source of the Jewish people’s values. Light and darkness do not belong on one side. A child is not a doll to be played with. Every child deserves to have both a mother and a father.”

The Ministry of Health’s legal counsel, Mira Huebner-Harel, asked participants to focus on the issue of unmarried women who seek to be mothers, and not to expand the discussion to include same-sex couples.

“Israel is one of the few countries in the world that allow surrogacy," she said, "but this involves complex ethical and moral layers. This bill does not address other issues other than a specific medical one.”

Huebner-Harel was referring to the fact that there a related proposal under discussion would allow single women to contract surrogacy services only if they suffer from medical problems that preclude them from carrying a pregnancy.

In response to her comments, committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) said that this is a matter that is mostly political in nature: “We have to respect everyone, all types of families. Given that, we have to be pragmatic. We can’t achieve everything at once.” He said that at the request of the Justice Ministry the discussion would be postponed by a few weeks, but that all decisions would be finalized within a month.

Last year the High Court of Justice sharply criticized the state on this issue. The justices, headed by then-President Miriam Naor, signaled that if a solution to the problem were not found soon the court would intervene.