Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik
IPS conjugal visit facility
Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik
Court: Gay prisoner not eligible for conjugal visits
Inmate asks for unusual exception to Israeli Prison Service guidelines, which make no provisions for same-sex couples; court denies request, asks IPS to consider standard visitation rights

The District Administrative Court ruled recently that a gay prisoner jailed at Hasharon Prison is not entitled to conjugal visits, since such a request by a same-sex couple "does not comply with the legal ordinances."


The petitioner, 35-year-old Lee Herman, is currently serving a 19-year sentence for attempted murder, aggravated robbery, intimidation and theft.


Herman, currently on year 11 of his sentence, is considered to be a violent inmate and is being held in the prison's seclusion bloc, meant to minimize his contact with both prison guards and other inmates.


Herman filed two petitions: The first to allow him standard visitation rights, and the second to allow him conjugal visits.


The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) allows standard conjugal visits to inmates who are married or are in a common-law relationship, providing they are not eligible for prison leave; and to those who were married while in prison. The current IPS guidelines make no provisions for same-sex couples.


The IPS has only five conjugal visit facilities spread in its facilities throughout the country; all of which are single-storey buildings located outside the common prison blocs.


In its objection to Herman's request, the IPS noted that he was not eligible for such visits, both because inmates held in seclusion are eligible for visits from their immediate family only, and because conjugal visits for same-sex couple are not allowed under the current guidelines. Herman's partner, said the IPS, cannot be considered immediate family.


The court sided with the IPS and denied the request for conjugal visits, but did, however, ask the IPS to consider allowing the couple normal visitation rights.


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