A prolonged legal struggle is bearing fruits, and same-sex couples in Israel may be one step closer to parenthood.
Gay couple Itay Pinkas (38) and Yoav Arad (39) wished to become parents, but could not qualify for surrogacy in Israel since the existing law only recognizes heterosexual couples.
The couple had to travel to India to have their children through a complicated and expensive surrogacy process. Now, as a result of their appeal to the High Court of Justice, a committee is recommending to amend current legislation.
Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef is the chairman of the public committee to regulate issues of fertility and childbirth in Israel. The committee will recommend to the Health Ministry to allow same-sex couples to qualify for surrogacy in Israel.
Prof. Mor-Yosef is a prominent figure in the Israeli health system. The committee of 11 lawyers, doctors and public figures finished its work last week, and its report will be delivered soon to Health Ministry Director General Roni Gamzo. If Deputy Minister Yakov Lizman will not raise any objections it will move forward to the Knesset.
According to the 1996 Israeli surrogacy law, every man and woman that comply with certain criteria may use the services of a surrogate mother. However, same-sex couples could not comply with the law and therefore were bound to seek surrogacy services elsewhere – mostly in the US and India.
Pinkas and Arad, who had two little girls from Indian surrogate mothers, expressed their optimism regarding the committee's conclusions. "We hope the recommendations will be legalized soon, we want to have more children," Arad said.
"This is a victory for the Israeli society as a whole, not just for one sector" he added, and expressed their hope that the report will bring the goal of civil equality closer.
Irit Rosenblum, founder and CEO of the "New Family" organization said the report is a first important step, but in order to allow to same-sex couples to have children in Israel many more laws would have to be amended.
"The conservative composition of the Knesset might not be in our favor," noted Rosenblum, "but we must not lose hope."