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Health Minister Yael German Photo: Hila Spack and Nitzan Dror
Health Minister Yael German Photo: Hila Spack and Nitzan Dror
 
 

Same-sex surrogacy bill highlights obstacles for marriage equality

Health Minister Yael German proposed change to surrogacy law pushes her to look outside coalition for support. Same-sex issue highlights tensions within coalition with Bennett's party willing to extend rights, but worry about granting official recognition

Moran Azulay
Published: 12.11.13, 23:35 / Israel News

The new surrogacy bill for single-sex parents advocated by Health Minister Yael German received praises in the legislative body, but the proposal faces many obstacles before it reaches the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs and – eventually – the Knesset plenum.

 

To approve the law, German will need to recruit a majority of supporters not necessarily from within the ruling coalition, which is composed of several opponents of same-sex rights, to be able to pass the bill.

 

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German must look beyond Yesh Atid and Hatnua and at the opposition, minus the haredi faction, to get the bill passed, but its success will also depend on support from the Likud- Beiteinu. However, the Likud-Beiteinu's stance on the matter has yet to be declared.

 

Knesset plenum (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Knesset plenum (Photo: Gil Yochanan)

 

Habayit Hayehudi has not announced its official position on the bill. Members of that particular faction claim they are still learning the matter. However they are unlikely to support a bill which will change the structure of the traditional marriage in Israel, as they have previously opposed such changes.

 

The bill presented on Thursday by German is a continuation of a wave of civil liberties legislation focused on civil marriage, an agenda heavily promoted by Yesh Atid in recent weeks.

 

Coalition drama 

These initiatives pit Yesh Atid time and time again against its coalition partner, Habayit Hayeudi. The same-sex marriage proposal raised the ire of Habayit Hayehudi, who hinted they might make use of their veto given to them by the coalition agreement over issues of religion and state.

 

Last week a severe confrontation erupted in the Knesset over MK Adi Kol's (Yesh Atid) bill proposal which would have granted same-sex couples the same tax credit points for children as given to heterosexual couples; the vote was prevented.

 

Habayit Hayehudi had agreed that the tax credits be given, but conditioned its support on the request that same-sex marriage would not be recognized by the new proposal.

 

Habayit Hayehudi sources said that they support granting same-sex couples rights which will improve the current situation, but they are concerned that regulating rights in legislation will lead to official recognition – an unacceptable position for the faction.

 

The sources said: "This is a wide-ranging question which touches on how we define the Israeli family structure. We are willing to discuss the rights of same-sex couples. For example the use of ordinances by the treasury minister or the health minister, but we cannot support a bill which will recognize these marriages and grant them legal standing."

 

Outside the coalition, the opposition called on German to proceed with the bill with their support and ignore the dissent. MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) told German that the opposition will assist her in consolidating a majority to get the bill passed.

 

Still, it is unclear which way Likud Beiteinu will vote. The haredi factions oppose the law, meaning German will need the support of Likud MKs if she hopes to turn the bill into law. Many Likud members support, in principle, a bill to promote the rights of same-sex people.

 

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri sent a symbolic message after German's press conference when he changed his Facebook profile picture to identify with the LGBT community.

 

"In wonderful timing, together with the social network campaign, the health minister delivered good tidings to Israelis. The surrogacy bill which caused much frustration in the LGBT community will – for the first time – include same-sex couples," wrote Peri.

 

He added, "This is another stage in the process for full acknowledgment of the familial unit, whatever shape it may take."

 

 

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