Despite wide support from many Members of Knesset and a claim of support by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Knesset recently rejected a preliminary reading of a bill to expand surrogacy laws to enable same-sex couples in Israel to use the procedure to have children.
The existing surrogacy law allows parenting through surrogacy for heterosexual couples in which the woman can’t carry a child. This summer legislation was passed that also allowed unmarried women, which could include lesbian couples, to also use surrogacy. The new proposal, a combination of two separate proposals from opposition MKs Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) and Yael German (Yesh Atid), would have expanded surrogacy to single men and gay couples, but was rejected in a vote that was 49 to 41.
Gay couples have, in recent years, turned to adopting abroad or using a surrogate in a foreign country, but these options can be costly.
MK Shmuli, who is openly gay, criticized the existing law and the government’s opposition to the new proposal. He said, “The right to a family is a basic right…This natural right ranks high on the levels of human rights, but for more than 20 years it has been denied to an entire community, my community. The law allows couples of only a specific type to realize their right to be parents. For the government, we were second class citizens and we remain second class citizens. The time has come for actions, not words. The basic demand here is for equality.”
He also directly addressed Netanyahu, questioning how Yigal Amir, the assassin who killed former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was allowed to father a child while in prison while gay men remain unable to do so in Israel.
The Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force has long been supported by the New Israel Fund. Following the recent voting down of this bill, NIF made a specific grant to enable the Aguda to campaign on this issue and push for full surrogacy rights for gay men in Israel.