Israel Court Rules Both Same-Sex Parents Must Be Listed on Child’s Birth Certificate

In a much-needed win for LGBTQ rights in Israel, a top court ruled on Wednesday that both same-sex parents must be listed on their child’s birth certificate.

A three-judge panel from the Israel Supreme Court sided with a gay couple who sued the Interior Ministry after officials from the department refused to list both their names on their adoptive son’s birth records. The ruling authored by Justice Neal Hendel was unanimous.

“The principle of ‘the good of the child’ argues for the recording of his entire family unit and doesn’t permit us to limit ourselves to only one of his parents in the birth certificate,” he said. “The contrast with the treatment of a child adopted by a heterosexual couple, who has the right to have both adopted parents written in a birth certificate, is a contrast that applies both to the child and to the parents.”

According to Hendel, it’s “unreasonable” for the Interior Ministry to legally recognize the couple “as parents but for the certificate not to give expression to that fact.”

Justices George Kara and Meni Mazuz joined concurred with the ruling.

As first reported by the Times of Israel, the Interior Ministry—which oversees the issuance of passports, visas, and ID cards—will now be forced to furnish a birth certificate with the plaintiffs’ names printed on it. Their identities were not made public to members of the media.

The ruling is expected to impact at least two additional cases: a transgender man who wishes to be listed as his child’s “father” on birth documents and a lesbian couple who want to both be legally designated as their child’s parents.

Hagai Kalai and Daniella Yaakobi, the couple’s lawyers, urged the Interior Ministry to continue rethinking its policies on recognition for LGBTQ parentage.

“We’re happy that the court reminded the Interior Ministry of something that should have been self-evident—that parents are parents, no matter their sex, sexual orientation or gender,” the attorneys said in a press release.

“The court clarified that this policy of nitpicking, which abridges the rights of LGBTQ parents for no reason, cannot stand,” they added. “We can hope that the court’s clear statement will lead the Interior Ministry to reconsider its policy of refusing to register two parents of the same sex in their children’s birth certificate, and refusing to register transgender parents in their children’s birth certificates with their correct gender.”

Aryeh Deri, the current Minister of the Interior, has opposed listing both same-sex parents on their child’s birth certificate. That position has put him at odds with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who has referred to that policy as discriminatory.

The favorable court decision marks an important moment of progress for Israel after same-sex couples were shut out of a surrogacy law earlier this year. In July, the Knesset passed a bill granting the rights of state-funded surrogacy to single women—but that legislation excluded LGBTQ partners, as well as unmarried men.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted against an amendment which would have included same-sex couples in the proposal.

Just days after the bill was approved by a 59-to-52 vote, an estimated 100,000 people protested that decision in Tel Aviv—the epicenter of Israel’s LGBTQ community. It’s often referred to as the “gayest city on earth.”

Hen Arieli, chair of LGBTQ advocacy group Aguda, claimed the government must work to further extend equal rights to same-sex couples.

“It’s time to end the illegitimate discrimination against us,” Arieli claimed in a statement to the Times of Israel. “We will continue to fight in the streets, in the courts and in the Knesset until we are no longer second-class citizens.”

Although 79 percent of Israelis support extending some form of relationship recognition to same-sex couples—whether civil unions or full marriage equality—the country does not allow LGBTQ partners to wed. Its government, however, has recognized same-sex marriages performed abroad since 2006.

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