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Precedent

Uzi Even (L) and Amit Kama Photo: Tal Cohen
Uzi Even (L) and Amit Kama Photo: Tal Cohen
 
 

Precedent: Court grants same-sex divorce

After rabbinical court refused to accept divorce plea of gay couple, family court grants marriage dissolution, setting precedent for divorce not ruled by religious institution

Naama Cohen-Friedman
Published: 12.03.12, 23:18 / Israel News

The Ramat Gan Family Court has granted two married men – Prof. Uzi Even and Dr. Amit Kama – a divorce. In a precedent-setting ruling, Judge Yehezkel Eliyahu determined that Family Court was "the appropriate forum for divorce pleas of this sort, as the Rabbinical Court does not recognize same-sex marriage and considers it sinful."

 

Since the issue of divorce is exclusively handled by rabbinical courts, the couple – married in a civil service in Canada, registered as married in Israel, but living separately since 2009 – had essentially no other way to get a divorce.

 

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After struggling with the issue for three years, Prof. Even decided to remove his motion from the Rabbinical Court and turn to Family Court. "At first, we approached the legal authority, which is the Rabbinical Court," Prof. Even told Ynet. "But when we filed the motion, they refused to register us or accept our court fees, wouldn’t schedule a hearing and kept telling us to wait. So we waited."

 

The waiting, according to Even, grew longer: "It's absurd; I've met someone else and we live together. He's a foreigner and continuously faced deportation. I couldn’t get on with my life without getting a divorce. They couldn’t grant him a visa – only a tourist visa – because I'm married and there was no legal way to get a divorce."

 

"Eventually," Even said, "I was tired of waiting and I canceled the motion and filed it with the Family Court."

 

After the Ramat Gan Family Court granted the divorce, both Prof. Even and Dr. Kama were pleased by the precedent set, stressing that they hope it could serve the general population, and not only gay couples.

 

"If I succeeded for the first time in the history of the State of Israel to undermine the tyranny of the religious institution in the personal lives of all of us, I'm very pleased," Kama told Ynet.

 

"Last night, friends started sending me their congratulations. It's not exactly the happiest event in my life – the dissolution of a 25-year relationship; it's not a happy divorce – but I am satisfied with the success of this battle. The door has opened for same-sex couples, and I hope that we've also managed to open a door for heterosexual couples," Kama added.

 

In his ruling, Judge Eliyahu wrote that due to the position of the Rabbinical Court and the obligation to maintain the rights of same-sex couples, not only was Family Court the "appropriate forum" to discuss such a motion, but the Rabbinical Court was in fact a "foreign" and "artificial" forum for such a plea.

 

 

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