home newsNEWSNews from Israel

Surrogacy Vote Delayed after PM Backs Inclusion of Same-sex Couples in Bill

The Israeli Knesset is deliberating over an amendment to the surrogacy bill which will allow single women to obtain the use of a surrogate in Israel, but will still exclude gay couples from obtaining this service also. Until now, the service has only been legally available in Israel to married, heterosexual couples.

Demonstrators protest against a Knesset bill amendment denying surrogacy for same-sex couples, Tel Aviv, July 14, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he would support an amendment to the proposed surrogacy bill extending eligibility to “single fathers,” thereby endorsing surrogacy for same-sex couples. Voting on the legislation, which had been due to take place Tuesday, has been delayed as politicians work to clarify any possible changes.

Openly gay Likud MK Amir Ohana had previously proposed an amendment to include same-sex couples in the upcoming bill, but was voted down by the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee last week.

However, Netanyahu told Ohana at a Likud faction meeting on Monday that the fact that the bill grants “single mothers” and not “single fathers” the right to surrogacy is “just not fair and needs to be fixed.”

The announcement came after dozens of protesters blocked a busy Tel Aviv junction during Monday evening rush hour to protest against the law denying the right to same-sex couples.

Oz Parvin, chairman of the Gay Fathers organization, told Army Radio on Tuesday that he believed that if Netanyahu wanted the law to pass, he had support from within the coalition as well as the opposition. He added that if the legislation is not amended, the case would be taken to the Supreme Court.

The coalition makeup makes it difficult to pass laws advancing LGBT rights. Religious parties, which traditionally oppose such legislation, hold significant power within the coalition.

In an emotional exchange last week, Likud MK Amir Ohana told the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health committee of the struggles he faced in starting his own family.

Amir Ohana

“When my husband and I wanted to raise a family, we had to travel thousands of kilometers to another country. The twins were born prematurely and we were not by their sides,” Ohana said. “I had to turn the world upside down to find a Jew, who did not know me but lived nearby, to be by their sides. I am not defying the rabbinate and going against religion, just asking for a bit of humanity.”

The vote is supposed to occur late Tuesday evening, July 17th.

Read full story in the Times of Israel