This Thursday, Israel’s High Court of Justice (basically the country’s Supreme Court) will hear a case that seeks to end anti-gay discrimination in the country’s adoption system. On Sunday, the Israeli government told the court that it had no intention of changing the system because same-sex couples place an “additional burden” on adopted children.
The case, brought by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers and a progressive political group called the Israel Religious Action Center, alleges that the Children’s Welfare Service of Israel’s Social Affairs Ministry values heterosexual couples over same-sex ones.
Israel puts up barriers for same-sex couples looking to adopt
In 2008, Israel’s Attorney General said that same-sex parents could adopt children, but since then only three same-sex couples have managed to adopt kids even though 550 have applied over the last 8 years. Comparatively 1,700 heterosexual couples have successfully adopted kids during that same period.
The problem, says The Times of Israel, is that the country’s child-welfare system sorts kids into two tiers. On the first tier are healthy children under the age of two that the system willingly gives to heterosexual couples. On the second tier are children over the age of two, kids with health problems, kids with siblings and at-risk minors who come from families with histories of mental illness or criminality.
Same-sex couples are only allowed to adopt kids when no appropriate heterosexual couple can be found, and even then, same-sex couples are both legally treated as two single parents and are listed as separate guardians rather than as a unified couple.
Israel’s government doesn’t want to make it easier for same-sex couples to adopt
On Sunday, the Israeli government issued a 57-page submission to the Supreme Court which said, “In relation to same-sex couples, justice and social affairs ministers have decided, on the basis of expert opinion, not to act to change the existing law.” They noted that the Children’s Welfare Service believes that having same-sex parents adds “additional baggage” to the lives of adopted children, since the kids already feel different from their peers.
The brief also called the case “a controversial and sensitive issue” and suggested that the country’s legislative body (the Knesset) should take up any changes to the system adding that “other countries had allowed same-sex couples to adopt only after deciding on allowing same-sex marriage.”
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Israel even though Israel recognizes same-sex couples married in other countries.
A gay activist calls Israel’s rules against same-sex adoptions “stupidity” and “abuse”
Udi Ledergor, chairman of the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, said:
“[The state has] declared war on gay families. Time after time, gay families encounter cold-heartedness and stupidity by State Prosecutor’s Office, who object to every request and petition by gay families in their demands for equality in adoption, surrogacy, parental registration and family life.”
“It’s amazing that Israel is willing to spend enormous resources on legal procedures whose entire goal is to harass and abuse gay families, instead of directing those resources to improve the lives of its citizens, who only want equality before the law and state.”
Interestingly, Haim Katz, Israel’s Minister of Welfare and Social Services said early Monday morning that he regretted the government’s wording in its brief to the Supreme Court.
Katz said, “Unfortunately, the wording submitted to the High Court was wrong and it would have been better if it was never said. The minister has no intention of restricting or withholding the right to adopt from any group including LGBT persons.” And yet Katz made no further comment nor did he issue any correction or additional documentation to indicate any change in the government’s handling of same-sex adoptions.
Featured image by Juanmonino via iStock