High Court Hints That It Won’t Legalize Gay Marriage in Israel

At hearing of petition by leading LGBT organization, justices suggest matter should be resolved by the Knesset, not the courts.

“If a gay man and a lesbian woman get married- is it also gay marriage?” The Aguda’s co-chairs Imri Kalmann and Chen Arieli invite the community to support their petition in the high court

A panel of High Court justices considering a petition that seeks to legalize gay marriage in Israel expressed empathy about same-sex couples’ situation at an initial hearing Monday, but suggested that the matter was probably one for the Knesset.

The petition, which was filed by the Aguda national LGBT task force, claimed that the inability of same-sex couples to marry in Israel is a violation of the country’s Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, and of equal rights and family rights. The petition seeks a court order either recognizing same-sex marriage or transferring authority over marriage from the rabbinical courts to domestic relations courts.

In a practice going back to Ottoman rule in the country, all matters concerning marriage and divorce are handled by religious courts rather than through civil authorities. Rabbinical courts in Israel, which have jurisdiction over marriage and divorce of Jewish Israelis, apply halakha (Jewish religious law), which does not allow gay marriage. However, same-sex marriages held overseas are recognized in Israel for some legal purposes

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