Reversal over Israel’s same-sex adoption policy


The Israeli government has reversed its opposition to allowing same-sex couples to adopt in the country.

The Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs has informed the state attorney that there is no problem in principal with same-sex adoption — although the Knesset would still have to legislate on the issue.

It had previously opposed adoption by same-sex couples but under the new criteria the potential suitability of parents for a given child will be addressed regardless of their sexual orientation.

The change in stance emerged after a petition was filed with Israel’s Supreme Court by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, together with the Israel Religious Action Centre of the Reform movement, against the Social Affairs Ministry and the attorney general.

A statement from the ministry to the state attorney, at the request of Welfare Minister Haim Katz, said: “In light of the public opposition to the state’s position, Labour, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz demanded a re-examination of the position.”

The ministry stressed that the rules regarding such adoptions can only be made by amending existing legislation stating: “In these circumstances and in a matter that has such significant social implications in today’s Israeli society, it appears that the proper place for further discussion of this issue is the legislature.”

Although adoption by same-sex couples has been legal in Israel since 2008, in practice it has been nearly impossible. Opposite-sex couples have been given priority with only three same-sex couples having adopted in Israel out of 550 applicants. More than 1,000 opposite-sex couples have adopted in the past nine years.

In its July response to the original High Court petition, the Israeli government said that it was opposed to same-sex adoption citing the “additional burden” it would place on the child.

But there were protests in Tel Aviv over the issue with thousands taking to the streets in protest at policy they deemed to be discriminatory.

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