Same-sex Couples Seeking to Adopt Will Have to Wait Until Long After Israel's November Election

Israel's top court grants state's request to delay hearing on adoption rights until after April 2023 – even though it ruled back in 2017 that the law discriminates against LGBTQ people and must change

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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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

The High Court of Justice agreed on Sunday to postpone until after Israel's November election a planned hearing on discrimination against LGBTQ people seeking to adopt children.

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The state had asked to wait until after the election – Israel's fifth in less than four years – to have more time to advance "legislative procedures." The court ruled back in 2017 that the law regulating adoption is discriminatory and must change.

In March, the state informed the High Court that Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar supported amending the section of the adoption law that discriminated against same-sex couples, but said that he did not consider the move politically viable at that point.

In his decision to accept the state's request for further delay, Justice Isaac Amit ruled that the state will need to update the court next April, and only then will a hearing be scheduled.

The petitioning attorneys, Ori Narov and Orly Erez-Likhovski, said that they opposed the postponement given that this is a "serious and ongoing violation of same-sex couples' rights to equality and dignity, as well as the right to parenthood and family."

The lawyers argued that political instability might persist for a long time, thus delaying a resolution far into the future.

One of the petitioners, Shay Gertler, said that he has been waiting on the adoption list for seven years. None of Israel's past six governments have "found it appropriate to abolish discrimination against us and other LGBTQ citizens who seek to adopt children," he said.

Shay Gertler (right) and Shahar Gluberman with their daughter Tanya in Tel Aviv, 2019.Credit: David Bachar

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

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.

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