Gay Reservists Are Picking the Wrong Fight

Claiming that Israeli law doesn’t recognize bereavement rights for LGBT families is a conservative interpretation of the law, which flies in the face of all recent legal rulings and could do more harm than good.

An ad published in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz – as part of a campaign by gay reservists – claims that Israeli law does not “automatically recognize bereavement rights when it comes to LGBT families,” and that the wording of the law discriminates against and doesn’t recognize same-sex couples.

The people who signed the ad called for a change in the law. However, in 1996 the late Justice Shaul Aloni ruled in the case of Adir Steiner, whose partner had died during military service, that it was illegal to discriminate because of sexual orientation. He ruled that the clause dealing with common-law couples should, for legal purposes, also be applied to same-sex couples. However, another judge ruled against Steiner – basing this decision on the law concerning families of fallen soldiers – and the matter ended in compromise. In practice, Aloni’s egalitarian approach prevailed.

Courts have ruled again and again that same-sex partners must be recognized as common-law couples, even if the law only refers to “a man and a woman who share a household” – as written in the succession law, for example – and in light of the need for an egalitarian interpretation of legislation to fulfill its goal.

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