In Blow to Minister, Attorney General Backs Listing Both Parents in Same-sex Adoptions

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Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit addresses the outgoing Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and her replacement Esther Hayut, on October 26, 2017.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit addresses the outgoing Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and her replacement Esther Hayut, on October 26, 2017.Credit: Oren Ben Hakon/Flash 90/Pool

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit will not defend in the High Court of Justice the interior minister’s opposition to registering both partners in a same-sex couple as the parents of their adopted children.

Mendelblit has informed Arye Dery of his decision. The attorney general is expected to submit his response Tuesday to a petition filed in the High Court on the matter.

>> The Unavoidable Obstacle to LGBT Equality, Religious Pluralism and a Liberal Israel: It’s the Occupation, Stupid | Analysis 

The response represents a significant development for the rights of the LGBT community in the battle for equality. It will be the second time Mendelblit has refused to represent the government’s position in the High Court, and is expressing an independent legal opinion.

The previous instance concerned the so-called expropriations law (permitting the expropriation of private Palestinian land on which settlements were built without malice aforethought or with government agreement), for which he allowed the government to hire the services of a private attorney to represent the government.

In the case of the petition for registration of same-sex couples as adoptive parents, the government position that will be submitted will be that of the attorney general, and apparently Dery’s opinion will be submitted alongside it.

Mendelblit is expected to write in his response that “refraining from registering the two adoptive parents on the birth certificate in the circumstances of the case is a blow to equality and fails to serve a worthy purpose, and therefore my opinion is that the registration of the two adoptive fathers on the birth certificate should be permitted.” This opinion was first published in the Hebrew daily Maariv.

The attorney general believes that there is no justification for distinguishing between heterosexual couples  and same-sex couples who adopt a child. 

The petition was submitted in September by the adoptive fathers of a boy and the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, through attorney Hagai Kalai.
It was filed in protest against the Interior Ministry refusal to put the men’s names men on their child’s birth certificate.

The Interior Ministry refuses to register parents of the same sex as their children’s parents.

That, in spite of the fact that the Population Registry Law states that: “Where a child has been adopted, then, in the Registry and in any document under this Law, the adopters shall be registered as his parents and the adoptee as their child, under the name fixed for him in the adoption order.”

According to the petition, since the founding of the State of Israel and to this day, only four partners of the same sex have been able to become parents, all of them through adoption. The two petitioners are included in the four.

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