On July 11, the top Israeli count struck down a law that prohibited gay and lesbian couples and single men from using a surrogate to have a baby
This will pave the way for same-sex couples to use the services of a gestational surrogate to grow their families. The ban will be lifted in six months; until then, surrogacy is only available to heterosexual couples and single women.
This legal battle has raged on for 11 years in Israel, ever since Yoav Arad Pinkas and Etai Pinkas Arad filed a petition to the Court in 2010. Finally, in February 2020, the High Court of Justice gave the Knesset a year to pass a new law, which they then extended to September 2021. The Court summarised their feelings by saying the rules “disproportionately violate the right to equality and the right to parenthood of these groups and are illegal.”
However, in early July 2021, the state asked the Court to step in. Stating that it was unfeasible for the new law to be made in the current political climate, they asked the Court to strike down the ban. The Court agreed.
The current coalition government is comprised of right-wing, centrist, left-wing and Islamist parties. They have only a slim parliamentary majority; any changes favouring LGBTQ rights are unlikely to happen. The fiercely religious Islamic Ra’amparty vehemently opposes gay rights, and other opposition parties are likely to vote down bills that they support in theory in an attempt to bring down the government.
According to Chief Justice Esther Hayut, “the current case has been going on for six years, and once it has been ruled that the current system is unconstitutional, the ‘lack of political feasibility’ can no longer justify the continuation of the grave violation of basic rights.”
LGBTQ rights campaigners are over the moon
The petitioners released a statement, joyously proclaiming, “We won! And now it’s final. This is a big step toward equality, not only for LGBT in Israel but for everyone in Israel. The ruling is important to us all because any arbitrary discrimination is an embarrassment to the country. Nobody has the right to discriminate against parents and deny them access to anything just because they aren’t a man and a woman.”
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, the first openly gay person health minister, tweeted, “Finally, equality! When I entered office, it was clear to me that the foot-dragging must end, and I told the High Court that the petition is justified and we are prepared for a binding ruling. We will quickly prepare to receive [surrogacy] requests from men. We will act with responsibility, even-handedness and equality.”
Of course, the religious opposition is not happy with this ruling. Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism, stated that lifting the ban, “legitimizes the trafficking of women for the goal of surrogacy.”
Congratulations to Israel for ending this discriminatory policy and making the goal of parenthood that much closer for those where surrogacy is their only chance