A bill to introduce non-religious unions, including same-sex, interfaith and others, fails in the Knesset
America may have gotten universal gay marriage last month, but Israel won’t be doing the same in the near future.
A bill proposed by Yesh Atid party MK Aliza Lavie that would have instituted civil marriage, including for gays, was voted down in the Knesset plenum Wednesday by an 11-vote margin, with 39 for and 50 against.
Despite widespread public support for same-sex marriage – a 2013 poll by the daily Haaretz found 70 percent of Israelis backing it – Israel’s contentious parliamentary politics have not been able to translate that support into legislation.
“Nobody really estimated that this bill could pass,” said Hebrew University professor of family law Ram Rivlin. “Not in this coalition.”
Israeli marriages are performed under laws inherited from Ottoman times that grant each Israeli religious community’s state-recognized leadership sole jurisdiction over marriage. These Ottoman religious communal structures, called millets, were continued by the British mandate. After Israel’s 1948 independence, Israel too maintained the system, citing among other considerations its obligations to the country’s minorities.