Israel to Reconsider Accepting Civil Marriages Online After Accidental Approval

Interior Minister Arye Dery orders halt to processing requests to recognize other civil marriages performed remotely until decision is reached on the matter

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
Interior Minister Arye Dery in the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 7, 2020.
Interior Minister Arye Dery in the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 7, 2020.Credit: Adina Valman, Knesset Spokesperson's Office
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

The Population and Immigration Authority recognized for the first time the civil marriages of three couples, among them a same-sex couple, conducted via a dedicated website run by the U.S. state of Utah.

Lower-level Population Authority officials had decided to recognize the civil marriages performed remotely. After word of the decision reached the press, first reported by Kan Bet public radio, Interior Minister Arye Dery announced that it was his responsibility to look into the matter, and that the authority would stop processing requests submitted for the recognition of such unions.

The three couples whose marriages were recognized, including a lesbian couple from Rehovot, conducted their ceremony over Zoom and presented the Population Authority with an official marriage license from the state of Utah.

Currently Israel does not recognize civil marriages, only acknowledging those conducted under the auspices of the Rabbinate.

This was the first time that authority officials had received such a marriage license. The authority said that the officials had only realized that they should have sought approval from more senior administrative and legal officials only after they granted it.

The Interior Ministry responded: “A number of requests for marriage registration were recently filed without the issue having been brought to the attention of the legal and administrative levels of the Population Authority. The interior minister instructed that processing these applications stop until the issue is brought before senior officials at the Population Authority and before the interior minister for a decision.”

The Population Authority told Haaretz that the registration of the three couples will not be revoked, but noted that other civil marriages of Israeli couples performed remotely would not be approved until more senior officials made a decision on the matter.

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