Court Overturned Conviction of A Gay Man

The Regional Court in the city of Ramleh overturned the conviction of Sh., who was charged with transporting illegal aliens. The court overturned the charges in order not to harm the process of the defendant’s citizenship process and the chance to start a family with his partner. The court’s decision is considered unprecedented, due to the fact that this is a same-sex and even an interfaith couple.

The judge in Ramleh’s Court, Judge Ami Kobo, sought to strike a balance between the considerations raised by the state that demanded a prison sentence, and the impact of such a conviction on the life of the defendant. He stated that there is a place to avoid conviction, and decided to terminate the procedure with no conviction, but a determination that the defendant indeed committed the alleged offense, but will be punished with community service.

Sh., aged 25, was caught two years ago while driving two illegal aliens. He confessed and was convicted based on his confession. The punishment for a confession of this offense ranges between several months of community service and several months in prison. The state argued that the defendant’s actions hurt public confidence and sought to impose on him a prison sentence, while the defendant’s attorney asked to discuss the cancellation of conviction, and asked for a social worker officer review.

In the review, Sh. said that four years ago he was forced to leave home in view of his sexual orientation and that his relationship with most of his family was disconnected. He suffered lack of means and for a long time was forced to live on the street.

Sh. managed to rehabilitate himself, mentally and financially. He served the country in national service and fully integrated into the working circle. Eighteen months ago he met his current boyfriend and moved in with him, and now he is in the process of applying for citizenship, after which the two plan to get married and start a family.

Despite the court’s ruling that only in exceptional, special and unusual cases it is possible to cancel the conviction of a person, the judge decided in favor of the probation report and canceled the conviction of the defendant.

In his explanation for overturning the conviction, the judge wrote that the cancellation of the conviction was made in order not to do harm to the citizenship process the defendant was going through, as a way to adopt a child with his partner.

“The fact that the defendant was ejected by his family and their residence and had to rebuild his life from both the economic and the family aspects, as well as the fact that he’s in the process of applying for citizenship under which his criminal record is being examined, and since conviction is likely to have significant implications on the process of citizenship, therefore convicting him will do great damage to him both in terms of his ability to become a citizen and of the issue of starting a family in the future,” the judge wrote.

“We welcome the Court’s decision in this primary concern,” attorney Mor Atia, who represented the defendant, told WDG. “This is an important precedent and a first of its kind regarding the attitude of criminal justice towards the gay community and their right to extend the family unit and we hope it will serve as a pillar of fire for other judicial officials.