In a groundbreaking decision for gay rights, Israel’s Attorney General Meni Mazuz has instructed the Israeli government agency responsible for child adoption that same-sex couples are now eligible to be recognized as parents. Gay couples will also be entitled to adopt children abroad and register as the child’s parents in Israel.
The Attorney General’s instruction follows the ruling in December by Israel’s Supreme Court that the Interior Ministry must register a mother’s female partner as her child’s second parent. The lesbian couple was represented by flagship NIF grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).
“The principle of the best interests of the child is complex," said Mazuz in his ruling, "and cannot be confronted by using inflexible formulas. There is nothing that dictates that the adoption of a child by a same-sex couple is not in the best interest of the adoptee.”
Personal Stories: Same-Sex Parents Assisted by NIF Grantee New Family: Organization for Family Rights:
- Shmuel and Rafael (not their real names) were married in Massachusetts and legally adopted a Cambodian-born baby in the U.S. in 1999. Upon their return to Israel in 2001, the Ministry of Interior refused to register the child as their son.
On their behalf, New Family petitioned the Supreme Court, which issued an order requiring the State to provide their son with education and health services and pledged to rule on the matter after their verdict on the earlier petition. This impending ruling acted as a catalyst for Meni Mazuz's instruction earlier this week.
- A Double Celebration for Yoav: Next week will be Yoav’s fourth birthday. It will be a double celebration as the State will soon be legally recognizing both his parents, Doron and Shay. Four years ago Doron went to Eastern Europe and adopted Yoav as a baby. When he returned to Israel he formalized the adoption with the Department of Child Welfare and registered himself as a single parent, concealing his homosexual relationship with Shay out of fear that this would disqualify the adoption. But in reality, Shay has been as much Yoav’s parent as Doron. After Doron returned from Eastern Europe with Yoav, New Family drew up a legal document setting out the rights and obligations of Shay and Doron as parents.
“The State has finally acknowledged my right to be a parent," says Shay.
Facts and Figures About LGBT Couples in Israel
- 18,000 same-sex couples manage joint households
- 2,000 lesbian couples raise children together.
- 30 lesbian couples are legally recognized as parents of their children.
- 10 gay male couples have applied to adopt children living with them.
(Source: Yediot Ahronot)