Israel Recognized Lesbian Couples as Mothers. Now It Says It Was a Mistake.

In March, we reported on the case of Irit and Einat Zevieli-Efrat, who discovered that their children’s birth certificates had been changed and the name of the non-biological mother had been erased from the documentation of the other mother’s children. Now, Israel’s Interior Ministry has declared that this was a mistake and is making retroactive changes to birth certificates issued to children born to lesbian couples, deleting the name of the non-biological mother.


THE ZVIELI FAMILY ON A TRIP PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FAMILY

The documents that included two mothers were issued to several dozen children in 2006-2007, after the courts began issuing adoption orders that recognized non-biological parents in LGBT families. Sources say that at issue are around 30 birth certificates. The state claims that the original certificates were issued in error.

In response to a parliamentary query on the matter submitted by four female MKs from different parties, deputy Knesset legal adviser Raz Nizri said, “The birth certificates in question were produced manually for a short period of time, contrary to the general policy of the Population Authority and not in accordance with the Population Registry regulations.”

Aside from the symbolic value of the birth certificate, which embodies recognition of LGBT couples who plan and raise children together, the birth certificate also is a vital document for immigration and visa applications.

Irit and Einat went to the Israeli Embassy in Kathmandu to receive copies of the birth certificates. A week and a half later, when they came to collect the documents, they discovered that the document copies sent to them were different from the birth certificates they had at home; only the biological mother appeared on the copies, while the nonbiological mother had been deleted.

“We were in shock,” said Irit. “In addition to the aggravation, there was also a lot of unpleasantness. The Indian Embassy accused us of providing false information, because we claimed that the children had two mothers and that the State of Israel recognizes us, and when we came with birth certificates, only one mother appeared. In the end, we obtained visas as single mothers. It’s a bad situation because it’s just not our reality.”

Daniela Yaakobi, who represents a number of parents who petitioned the High Court of Justice on the matter, states, “how is it that for 12 years none of the women was told that she was in possession of an erroneous birth certificate?”

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Irit Zviely-Efrat is a former CEO of Hoshen. A Wider Bridge brought her to the US on two separate visits, in 2012 and 2013, to speak about her LGBTQ Activism.