Israel Ordered to Explain Why Only One Lesbian Mother Appears on Birth Certificates

High Court to hear petition from lesbian couples with children that have just one of their mothers listed on their birth certificates.

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Illustration: Lesbian couple.
Illustration: Lesbian couple.Credit: Dreamstime

The High Court of Justice on Friday ruled that a panel of three justices should hear, as soon as possible, a petition by 10 lesbian couples who are frustrated with the Interior Ministry’s failure to list both women as parents on the children’s birth certificates. The court instructed the state to submit a response at least seven days before the hearing.

On Thursday the 10 families asked the court to order the Interior Ministry to register both members of each couple as the mothers of their respective children.

The ministry has systematically ignored their requests to do so, the petition said. That violates the Population Registry Law, which obligates the agency to list both women as mothers on the birth certificates once the requisite adoption and parenthood certificates are obtained.

With regard to three of the couples, the ministry is also violating an explicit order by a family court, it said. In all three of those cases, the ministry has asked the court to reconsider the parenthood certificates it issued.

In its requests for a rehearing, the ministry argued that the family court isn’t authorized to tell the Population, Immigration and Border Authority how to run the Population Registry. Moreover, it argued, a parenthood certificate, like an adoption certificate, creates a parental relationship only from the moment it was issued, not from the moment the child was born, and therefore, the birth certificate shouldn’t be amended retroactively.

But the petition, filed by attorneys Daniela Yaakobi, Ahinoam Segal-Orbach and Hagai Kalai, argued that the law does obligate the ministry to alter the birth certificate. Moreover, it said, when heterosexual parents obtain an adoption or parenthood certificate after the birth, the ministry in fact issues a new birth certificate with both parents’ names.

“This is discrimination, plain and simple, on the basis of sexual orientation,” the petition said. Moreover, it added, the ministry is thereby undermining the right of both mothers and children to a normal family life.

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