Another obstacle to LGBT parenthood: Haaretz has discovered that the state refuses to register two women as mothers of their children only because they live abroad, claiming that residency is a condition for granting parenthood status. Meanwhile, the children of straight couples living abroad are registered without any residency condition.
When heterosexual parents who are Israeli citizens living abroad have a baby, there is no need for a legal proceeding to register the children, who can be registered in the Israeli consulate in that country. But the state opposes granting parenthood status to lesbians living abroad. This is a new demand that requires LBGT couples to live in Israel to be registered as parents.
The state claims to have two goals: For the country of residency to determine the applicant’s status, and to carry out a comprehensive examination of the welfare of the minor in the country where he lives.
Thus Adi and Efrat, Israeli citizens, were forced to wait eight months for parenthood status because they had moved temporarily to Austria. Their request for parenthood status for Adi’s children, Thomas and Alice, was opposed by the state, which claimed that residency in Israel is required. The state claimed that because Adi and Efrat are presently residents of Austria without a fixed date for returning to Israel, there is no possibility of granting them parenthood status.
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But last week the Petah Tikva Family Court ruled in their favor and rejected the state’s claims. Judge Yocheved Greenwald Rand wrote: “A failure to grant the requested parenthood status would place them in an inferior situation compared to heterosexual couples, who have the right to register fatherhood based on a declaration alone.
“It should be clarified that the difference between LGBT families and heterosexual families is not a ‘relevant difference’ that justifies different procedures. … The social interest and public policy mandate enabling LGBT families to conduct an ordinary family framework.”
She also said that the state’s demand for residency is “liable to empty the meaning of Israeli citizenship of content as well as all the rights stemming from it, among them the right to parenthood.” The judge also said that “preventing the granting of parenthood status due to a demand of residency does not accord with the right of access to a court, which is a basic constitutional right granted to every Israeli citizen, which is actually the right to receive all the rights granted to Israeli citizens, regardless of their residency.”
The judge concluded: “The decision makers would do well to act when they come to examine a request like this one … not only according to the law, but also from an approach that goes beyond the letter of the law, applying principles of kindness and peace.”
Adi and Efrat married in 2016 in a civil ceremony, and decided to have children through a sperm donor. Efrat is the children’s biological mother, and if Adi is not registered as the second mother, she won’t be able to carry out basic functions for the children’s welfare. Furthermore, Austria does not grant parenthood status to foreign nationals, saying the matter is dependent on Israeli law. Thus Adi can’t be registered as the second mother in Austria without the consent of Israeli authorities.
Attorney Daniela Yaakobi, who represented the women, called the Israeli decision discriminatory, saying residency had no relevance to the issue of the women’s parenthood, just as it didn’t to heterosexual parents of a minor who is an Israeli citizen born abroad.
“Any other decision means discrimination between heterosexual and same-sex couples,” said Yaakobi. “The demand for residency is only another example of the conditions that the state poses for same-sex couples as a condition for parenthood, as opposed to heterosexual couples. These are discriminatory conditions with no relevance to parenthood, and their result is a serious blow to the welfare of the children and the right to parenthood and a family life.”
The Population, Immigration and Border Authority said in response: “The procedure for granting parenthood status distinguishes between a situation involving biological fatherhood and motherhood, in which case the parents’ residency is irrelevant, and a situation regarding a partner of a biological parent, which requires a legal procedure – a court ruling for parenthood status or adoption status. Some of the conditions for this are stipulated by law (regarding adoption) and some have been set by the attorney general (regarding parenthood status by court ruling). This demand is not made by the Population Authority (both are citizens). The residence requirement is stipulated by the adoption law and the attorney general has applied it to parenthood status obtained by a court ruling as well.”