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Fighting for equality. Ben Ilan Photo: Nadav Tzofi
Fighting for equality. Ben Ilan Photo: Nadav Tzofi
 
 

Fatherhood license revoked

Op-ed: In open letter to PM Netanyahu, gay man demands State of Israel grant him most basic right

Ben Ilan
Published: 01.12.13, 13:10 / Israel Opinion

Dear Health Minister and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,

 

I was born in 1985 in a kibbutz in the north, and since then I have fulfilled all of my civic duties, including combat service in an elite unit and paying taxes. I do not think I deserve some kind of reward for my contribution to society, but the one thing I would really want from you has to do with a basic right your government does not recognize.

 

This is not a complaint about the cost of living, taxes or education; this is about a basic right that for you and others like you is taken for granted. Former Supreme Court Justice Mishael Cheshin described parenthood as the most basic right.

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You are probably still confused and wondering what I'm talking about, so let me tell you that I recently learned India has closed its doors to gay couples and individuals who want to become parents through surrogacy. Our chances of becoming parents decreased significantly due to some administrative decision reached in Mumbai. Yes, you understand correctly - until now we had to travel to Canada to get married and to India in order to bring children into the world.

 

Apart from the bureaucratic difficulties, this is a heavy economic burden that will now almost double. There are very few countries such as the US and Canada that allow the surrogacy procedure. In this situation, we would need to spend 50 average salaries to enjoy the most basic right of bringing a child into the world.

 

These figures are probably familiar to you from the housing issue, but bringing children into the world is not a lease option, and even the adoption laws do not allow homosexual couples to enjoy this basic right. Consider this Mr. Netanyahu: If, for example, 10,000 same sex Israeli couples spend $100,000 each on surrogate procedures in North America, this means that a billion dollars that could have remained in Israel were spent abroad.

 

Blatant discrimination

Numerous studies confirm that gay people make great parents in light of the obstacles they have to overcome on the road to parenthood and due to their commitment to raise tolerant children who will respect themselves and the other.

 

There is a reason why the public committee headed by Professor Shlomo Mor Yosef recommended that homosexual couples be allowed to have children using surrogate mothers. But if you are reelected, what are the odds that you will not ignore the recommendations of a professional committee established by the State of Israel's Health Ministry?

 

We are all ware of the sensitive situation in Israel with regards to the religious status quo, and no one is denying the fact that the state of the LGBT community in Israel is good compared with gay communities in most other countries, but we are still denied this very basic right.

 

The debate on the surrogacy issue is complex, and I am not ignoring the criticism regarding the "trade" in women's uteruses, but the current reality places all of the responsibility involved in raising children on women, and this hurts the feminist movement just as much. But regardless of all these struggles, it is inconceivable that the public remains silent while the law in the State of Israel creates such discrimination and inequality and arbitrarily divides society into classes, some of which are denied such a basic right.

 

The State of Israel is willing to give me a driver's license, a gun license and a license to practice law, but it is not willing to give me a license to bring a child into the world. I will not allow such blatant discrimination to exist in Israel in 2013.

 

I belong to a group consisting of tens of thousands of good, law-abiding citizens. We fulfill our duties willingly, but we will fight for our right to equality relentlessly. It is only fair that you and all those who seek my trust as a human being and a voter express support for these ideas.

 

Ben Ilan is a law student at Tel Aviv University

 

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