Israel Tells Top Court It Supports Ending Discriminatory LGBTQ Adoption Laws

Protests led the state to say it would address LGBTQ adoption. But after five years on Israel says there's no political feasibility of amending the legislation

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
A demonstration against adoption discrimination towards LGBTQ citizens, in 2017.
A demonstration against adoption discrimination towards LGBTQ citizens, in 2017.Credit: Moti Milrod
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Israel told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday that it supports ending the discrimination against LGBTQ citizens in adoption laws, but that there is no political feasibility of amending the current legislation.

The state also reiterated its position supporting changing the legal status quo to allow same-sex couples to adopt children, but noted that this should be done through a legislative amendment by the Knesset.

The Justice and Welfare ministers Gideon Sa'ar and Meir Cohen already support abolishing adoption laws discriminatory toward same-sex couples.

The Adoption Act currently gives adoption priority to married heterosexual couples, and an order for single adoption can be issued by the court in two exceptional cases only: if the spouse is the child's biological parent, or if the spouse has previously adopted the child, and additionally if the biological parents have died and the adoptee is an unmarried relative.

The state's announcement to the High Court was made in response to an appeal by the Aguda - Israel's LGBTQ Task Force, the Israel Religious Action Center, the Jerusalem Open House, and two male couples hoping to adopt children.

In 2017, the state informed the High Court that it had reversed its position and would allow equal adoption for LGBTQ couples, after Haaretz revealed that it then defined same-sex couples as irregular couples who might "add to the burden of the child."

This report led to widespread protest, after which the state admitted before the High Court that the Adoption Law discriminates against LGBTQ couples without justification and also undertook to correct the situation. But five years later, the law has yet to be amended.

Last November, the state informed the High Court that a bill on the matter was on the ministers' desks, and asked to postpone its response to the petition to the current month, arguing that the new ministers need to study the issue.

Aguda Chairwoman Hila Pe'er said "After years of avoidance and postponements by the state, this is the hour of judgment for Justice and Welfare ministers, Gideon Sa'ar and Meir Cohen, who were named as respondents in the petition we submitted to the High Court of Justice against the discrimination in the Adoption Law."

"We call upon the ministers to do the right thing and act quickly and efficiently to abolish the discrimination which views LGBTQ couples as second class parents, as they promised before the elections," she said.

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