Israel Lifts Surrogacy Restrictions in Landmark Decision for LGBTQ People

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced that homosexuals will have access to surrogacy in Israel, which was previously limited to heterosexual couples and single women with fertility issues

Bar Peleg
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Protests against the surrogacy law in 2018.
Protests against the surrogacy law in 2018.Credit: Moti Milrod
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Israeli male homosexual couples, single Israeli men and transgender individuals will be permitted to arrange surrogate pregnancies in the country, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced on Tuesday. The new policy takes effect on January 11.

Following a court ruling in July, the Health Ministry issued a circular amending Israel’s surrogacy law to provide equal access to surrogate pregnancies “to any person in Israel.”

The ruling by the High Court of Justice in July struck down discriminatory definitions in the existing law that excluded access to surrogacy to some men. The court ruled that the government has an obligation to provide the same surrogacy conditions to men as women.

Up to now, surrogate pregnancies were made available in Israel only to couples consisting of a man and a woman, both of whom were Israeli residents; or to single female residents of the country in cases in which the prospective mother had medical problems that prevented her from getting pregnant or from maintaining the pregnancy.

“Today, we are putting an end to years of injustice and discrimination,” Health Minister Horowitz told a press conference Tuesday. “A week from today, we will also give equal access to surrogacy in Israel to single men, future fathers, as well as [male] homosexual couples – actually to any individual. Today we are issuing the director general’s new circular, which enshrines the High Court ruling and revises the procedures in the law.”

“Members of the LGBT community also have an equal right to be parents,” Horowitz said. “From now on at the ministry, we will relate to every parent and family in an equal manner. Everyone has the right to be a parent. Transgender individuals will also be able to obtain surrogacy in Israel."

The surrogacy law requires those seeking to arrange surrogacy in Israel to obtain permission from the Health Ministry’s surrogacy committee. As an initial step, the panel examines the applicant’s eligibility for surrogacy based on the surrogacy law. The second stage involves approval of the surrogacy agreement between the prospective parents and the surrogate mother who is to carry the pregnancy.

In its ruling in July, the court struck down the definitions of “prospective parents” in the law’s provisions relating to the surrogacy agreement and egg donations so that they now apply to single men and to homosexual male couples – and not only to heterosexual couples and single women.

In her ruling, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut explained that the change will enable anyone “who is suffering fertility limitations of the kind and quality that can only be resolved through resort to a surrogacy process” to do so in Israel. That will create “full equality between a woman suffering from a medical problem and a man,” she noted.

The petitioners who filed the case that led to July’s court ruling, including the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers and the Tammuz international surrogacy agency, welcomed the move by the Health Ministry.

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