Israel's New Adoption Law to End Discrimination Against LGBT Parents

The memo of the bill comes a year after a High Court challenge to the state’s policy that prohibited adoption in Israel by anyone other than ‘a man and his wife together’

A protest by the LGBT community, July 2018.
Gil Eliahu

The country's new adoption law will give same-sex couples the same right to adopt children in Israel as other couples, according to the memorandum of the bill written by the justice and social affairs ministries and obtained by Haaretz.

The legislation is a reversal of the state’s previous policy, which discriminated against LGBT couples who wished to adopt. It also follows a High Court challenge to that law in 2017 and a promise by the state to correct that stance.

The new law would still give preference to couples over single parents, and to be considered a couple, the two partners would have to have been living together for at least three years.

As the government promised the High Court of Justice in September, the new legislation will not include the clause in the previous law stating that “there is no adoption except by a man and his wife together.”

A year ago, Haaretz reported that the government had informed the High Court that it would not end the discrimination against LGBT people who wanted to adopt in Israel, saying it believed that adoption by same-sex parents would add “additional baggage” for adopted children, who already felt different from their peers.

But after this position was widely reported in the media, the state told the court that it had no objection to such adoptions and intended to change its policy.

The petition was filed by the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism and the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers against the Justice Ministry and the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry.

The new memorandum has yet to receive final approval from Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Katz instructed his staff to change the law after the uproar that followed the Haaretz exposé last year, and is expected to approve the bill.

Sources told Haaretz that Shaked hasn’t seen the memorandum yet, and it’s not clear whether she will approve it. The state promised the High Court that it would submit the memorandum by the middle of this year, but it won’t be advanced until the opening of the next Knesset session in mid-October.