No Legal Duty for Couples to Reveal Sexual Orientation, Israel's Supreme Court Rules

Israel's Supreme Court decided that a person is not legally bound to uncover their object of passion with their partners

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
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A couple, wearing protective face masks, stand next to a photo mosaic titled iמ Barcelona, Spain in Janurary.
A couple, wearing protective face masks, stand next to a photo mosaic titled iמ Barcelona, Spain in Janurary.Credit: NACHO DOCE/ REUTERS
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that there is no legal obligation for a person to reveal their sexual orientation or religious faith to their partner.

The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit against a man who allegedly hid sexual orientation from his wife.

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The wife and her mother together sued the ex-husband in the Jerusalem Magistrate Court, seeking 5 million shekels ($1.55 million) in damages on the grounds that he had hidden his sexual orientation for a decade, during which they had three daughters.

The two claimed the husband had been leading a “double life” – he portrayed himself as a religious, heterosexual married man while also leading a secular lifestyle and maintaining homosexual relationships. By concealing his sexual orientation, the lawsuit claimed the man had caused them, the wife in particular, emotional and financial harms.

The court reject their claims, however the woman and her mother appealed to the Jerusalem District Court, which accepted the appeal and ordered the lower court to rehear the lawsuit. The man then decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.

A three-justice panel of Yael Vilner, Uzi Fogelman and Noam Sohlberg reached the decision unanimously. In the Supreme Court ruling the justices wrote, "Claims against a spouse who hid his real feelings toward the other; his real reasons for institutionalizing their bond; the intensity of his sexual attraction to his partner and to other men or other women; the objects of his passion; his thoughts in the depths of his heart – all of these are not claims that should be clarified and debated in court.”

Thus, the justices claimed that a person has no legal obligation to disclose his or her sexual orientation or preferences prior to marriage. The justices noted that this does not negate the person’s ethical duty to make such disclosures to his or her spouse.

“Recognition of a person’s legal obligation to share his or her spouse all of this … may severely infringe on a person’s privacy in relation to the most personal and intimate aspects related to his or her own private space and world,” the justices wrote.

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