Same-sex Couples Deserve Equal Tax Benefits

If Israel considers itself a liberal state, it's about time it take a bold step and openly recognizes the rights of gay parents.

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The ministerial committee for legislation decided last Sunday to support a bill proposed by MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) that would change the income tax law. This proposal addresses distortions in the tax law that discriminate against same-sex couples. The new provision will allow each partner to obtain half of the tax credit that is usually given to mothers. Kol explained that “this law delivers a clear and strong message that the state recognizes same-sex couples as parents for any legal purposes.”

However, the possibility that the state would recognize something as basic as same-sex couplehood riled Knesset members from Habayit Hayehudi. On Monday, faction leader MK Ayelet Shaked submitted a request to veto the committee’s proposal since it upsets the status quo between religion and state.

Shaked is not alone. Last week the same committee rejected a similar proposal brought forward by MK Kol, when ministers from Yisrael Beiteinu and two of Habayit Hayehudi’s ministers, Uri Ariel and Uri Orbach, opposed the proposal. Ariel claimed that the proposal was provocative and was only meant to flout all previous understandings that were reached on these issues. Orbach said that this was an attempt to introduce recognition of same-sex marriage through the back door.

On Monday, following pressure exerted on Habayit Hayehudi, the party proposed two alternatives for correcting the distortions in the tax law. According to the first one, the tax credit given hitherto to mothers will be split equally between parents, regardless of their gender. The second proposal even favors same-sex couples, suggesting that two men who are parenting a child will get a full credit point, rather than the half point given to mothers. Both these proposals were brought forth in exchange for a commitment that the state would refuse to recognize same-sex couples.

In effect, this is political bribery, meant to swap principles for money. Habayit Hayehudi proposes to transfer funds to same-sex couples in exchange for maintaining the status quo, which is based on a primitive world view. The overarching aim of these dark forces, which comprise a central part of the coalition, is to prevent a future situation in which the courts will be able to refer to the Knesset’s de facto recognition of same-sex couples.

On Tuesday, a compromise was reached, whereby Habayit Hayehudi will support Kol’s proposal, in return for altering the phrasing of the bill so as not to recognize same-sex couplehood. Even if the final result of this will be the egalitarian implementation of the tax code, and even if there is no need for special laws for same-sex couples, but rather general laws that are worded in an inclusive way in terms of gender and sexual preference -- it is impossible to ignore the fact that the motivation for this change is a conservative and discriminatory world view.

A country that considers itself liberal and sensitive to civil rights must recognize the right of same-sex couples to share their lives. Therefore, MK Kol’s original bill should be supported.

A gay couple and their child at a conference on surrogacy in Tel Aviv.Credit: David Bachar
Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol's proposal to recognize same-sex parents passed through the Knesset's Legislation Committee on Sunday.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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