Opinion

The Child's Best Interests or anti-LGBT Hatred?

Before they are seen as regular people who can nonchalantly feature in the family snapshot, the state will put up 1,001 obstacles to prevent them from starting families

File photo: Protesting for gay couples' right to use surrogates in Israel.
Emile Salman

Don’t be misled by the colorful floats from the gay pride parade, or by the deceptive posters from liberal Tel Aviv that celebrate the exotic charm of “the other.” And don’t be misled by the fun Eurovision celebrations that the LGBT community is so identified with.

True, they don’t throw gay men off roofs in Israel as they do in the neighboring countries, and, thankfully, they don’t shunt lesbians to the margins of society. In Israel, gay men sing and dance in prime time and lesbians are allowed to work as television reporters. (With transgender people, it’s complicated, so let’s agree for now to watch a documentary on the subject.)

But let it be clear that when it comes to the bread and butter of life – basic human rights and the deep human need to give birth and raise children – the State of Israel, in keeping with large segments of the population, toes the line with unenlightened countries and primitive communities that Israel likes to look down on.

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On Wednesday, the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee voted to let single women obtain surrogacy services. The committee cleared legislation on the matter to proceed to its final two Knesset votes, but left same-sex couples out. This follows an abusive trend toward LGBT parents, who are forced – unlike their heterosexual counterparts, who can avail themselves of sperm banks, surrogacy services and fertility clinics – to go to court to force the state to recognize them as parents.

The trend also includes the rescinding of some recognition already obtained, including arguments over birth certificates issued in Israel in 2006 and 2007 in which both mothers are listed as parents. There are also of course ultra-Orthodox opponents and the Bezalel Smotriches and Moti Yogevs in the Knesset who insist on waging a despicable all-out war against people who did nothing to them but are a convenient excuse to leave things as they are.

The point of departure for this discriminatory policy is the common faith of many people, including those who consider themselves liberals and those who love their neighbors’ gay son (“even such a boy is a success”) or their lesbian cousin (“she’s actually a sweetheart of a girl”).

Yet they believe that LGBT couples don’t have the same value as straight couples, and even that the LGBT family unit isn’t a “regular” nuclear family; it’s deviant.

The state has often made baseless arguments in court that it’s representing the best interests of the child. The realities of life have contradicted these arguments over and over. At times, under the state’s auspices, we have seen horrible cases in which biological parents have used their excessive rights and ripped children from their nonbiological parent.

There have also been “minor” cases in which a nonbiological parent can’t sign medical consent forms or school forms for the children. The distress and grief caused to the children doesn’t square by any means with “the best interests of the child.”

Beyond that, we should be aware of the arrogance in such a ruling, as if the country weren’t full of “regular” families in which biological parents shun or neglect their children or cause them harm for whatever reason. As if the country weren’t full of stable and functional LGBT nuclear families that due to their great efforts actually view their children as a dream come true, a huge benefit that should be protected and nurtured, one that cannot be taken for granted.

Before LGBT people are seen as regular people who can naturally and nonchalantly feature in the family snapshot, the state will put up 1,001 obstacles to prevent them from starting families and achieving equal recognition. So don’t be misled by the fun parties and confetti. Help bring about the day when we’re simply viewed as human beings.