Albert Sakharovich

Knesset gives equal treatment to same sex spouses

Partners of gay MKs to get same rights as heterosexual husbands and wives; director-general of Israeli parliament tells Ynet that the institution is 'mirror image of Israeli society' and is 'sending a message' to the country

The Knesset, in what is seen as a liberal approach to same sex couples, has decided to give equal treatment to heterosexual and homosexual couples among its members.



The 21st Knesset, which was sworn in last month, has a record-breaking five openly gay members out of the 120 elected lawmakers.


Member of Knesset Eitan Ginzburg (right) and his spouse Yotam at the opening session of the 21st Knesset
Member of Knesset Eitan Ginzburg (right) and his spouse Yotam at the opening session of the 21st Knesset


The change came after former Ra'anana mayor Eitan Ginzburg, a new MK for the Blue and White party, was asked to sign a form during his orientation that said he had a common-law spouse. Ginzburg and his partner Yotam, realizing that the form refers to a family unit as comprising of husband and wife, refused to sign it.


Meretz leader MK Tamar Zandberg asked the Knesset legal department to have the document changed to accommodate other types of families, and was surprised when officials agreed to change the term "husband and wife" to "couple" on the spot.


Knesset Director-General Albert Sakharovich followed up by instructing all department heads under his purview to prepare for a change of policy regarding spouses of gay Knesset members.


Knesset Director-General Albert Sakharovich
Knesset Director-General Albert Sakharovich


Sakharovich told Ynet that as soon as the election results were in, he became aware that the number of LGBTQ members would rise, requiring changes in policy.


He said that according to the changes he has now introduced, spouses of gay members will be registered and treated the same as all other spouses. Among other things, they will be given permanent entry passes for the Knesset, be invited to all official ceremonies and events, and allowed to drive any Knesset-issued vehicles assigned to their partners.


"The Knesset is a mirror image of Israeli society, and as such reflects trends down to the minute detail," said Sakharovich.


"It is not about making a technical amendment. It is a substantive statement made by the Knesset to its elected officials and through them to the general public, the citizens of Israel, for whom the Knesset is home in the fullest sense of the word."  


21st Knesset hold its first plenum (Photo: AP)
21st Knesset hold its first plenum (Photo: AP)


New MK Ginzburg told Ynet's sister publication, Yedioth Aharonoth: "I have been living with Yotam for over 15 years and we are parents to Itai and Emma. I am pleased to see the Knesset (officials) understood our position and took it upon themselves to make the necessary changes.


"This is a validation of our family and I think all state institutions should accept that there is more than one kind of family."


פרסום ראשון: 05.20.19, 19:51
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