Gay couple with kids 521.
(photo credit: Boaz Berney)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday announced a game-changing progressive
policy shift for how the state addresses homosexual parenthood of children born
through surrogate motherhood.
According to the old policy, the member of
the homosexual couple who is the child’s biological father must pass a paternity
test in which a sample of his genetic tissue is checked.
the second man in the couple – who has no biological relation to the child, but
was jointly involved in all of the decisions and who expects to be equally
involved in parenting – must go through a lengthy process to legally adopt the
Couples have complained that the adoption process for the second
man can easily take up to three years.
Under the new policy, although the
biological father will still need to pass a paternity test, upon passing the
test, the family courts will be immediately authorized to issue a special
parenthood order – and the second man will be able to become a full-fledged
trustee of the child until the adopting process concludes.
this will grant the two men full parental rights and powers at a much earlier
The new change in policy does have some conditions
First, it will not actually go into effect for about another
month, until the state announces a list of conditions and tests that the genetic
father must fulfill.
Second, it is designed to only be a temporary
solution, until the Knesset takes up the issue and formalizes a more permanent
and comprehensive solution to the issue and related problems.
decision comes in the wake of two key turning points.
The first was in
February, when a seven-member panel of the High Court of Justice pressed the
state to liberalize and streamline the process for recognizing the homosexual
parenthood of a child born through surrogate motherhood.
While the court
did not actually issue a formal ruling, it aggressively pushed the state toward
answering soon whether it would be willing to change its policies based on
suggestions from petitioners and the court.
In other words, the court
implied it was ready to decide on a change in policy if the state did not do so
Although the state expressed certain formal reservations
throughout the hearing, it did not contradict most of the petitioners’
fundamental arguments about the alleged inefficiency and unfairness of the
The second key event was a formal endorsement by the
Mor-Yosef Commission of a liberalizing and streamlining of procedures, which may
be taken up by the Knesset.
At the February High Court hearing, one of
the two homosexual couples who petitioned the court said that it had been
through the process once before and that it had taken three years.
petitioners asked the court to alter the process such that it conforms to those
in several Western countries, such as Canada, where an order is issued declaring
the homosexual couple as parents after one of the men in the couple passes a
paternity test (even if administered overseas).
The Canadian system has
no requirements for additional adoption procedures or local paternity
There is a gag order on the petitioners’ names to protect their
identities and to protect the children involved, and the hearing itself was held
behind closed doors.
Both couples found surrogate mothers in the US,
where the biological fathers have already passed paternity tests.
the couples asked the court to recognize both of the two partners as the child’s
parents without undergoing a paternity test in Israel.
The couple stated
that the American medical documents and birth certificates in its possession
should be sufficient for automatic recognition of their status as the child’s
parents in Israel.
The male child in question is already two-and-a-half
The couple also has a five-year-old daughter who was born
through an American surrogate mother.
In the case of the daughter, the
couple did submit to the paternity test and went through the long adoption