Hiddush, a religious-freedom lobbying group, published its new Worldwide Freedom
of Marriage Project on Sunday, comparing the status of marriage freedom in
The project’s findings, ranked from 0 to 2, placed
Israel in the lowest of three categories, on a par with countries such as Iran,
Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
Hiddush ranked Israel so low because of the
exclusive jurisdiction of religious authorities in Israel over marriage, which
makes it impossible for a Jew to marry a non-Jew in the country, or for
interfaith marriages in general.
Marriages of such couples conducted
abroad are subsequently recognized by the state however, as are common law
marriages. Hiddush did not state whether or not such provisions are available in
the countries ranked alongside Israel.
In response to the study, Labor
chairwoman and opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich called for the establishment
of civil marriage in Israel, saying that the fact that Israel was ranked
alongside Afghanistan was “worrying and embarrassing.”
She also said
homosexual marriage should be permitted “as has been enacted in France, New
Zealand and more and more in other enlightened nations.”
found that there are severe restrictions on marriage in 45 out of 194 countries,
or 23 percent, including Israel; 56 countries, or 29%, have partial
restrictions; and 93, or 48%, enjoy complete freedom on issues of
“Israel is the only Western democracy which ranked zero,” the
Among sources employed by Hiddush for the annual reports of
the United States Department of State on freedom of religion and human rights as
well as data from the European Council website, and the World Bank.
10 days ago, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid promised to institute civil marriages
in Israel when speaking to the UJA-Federation of New York.
coalition partner Bayit Yehudi remains firmly opposed to civil
Deputy Religious Services Minister and Bayit Yehudi MK Eli
Ben-Dahan told The Jerusalem Post earlier this month that the party would veto
any attempt to institute civil marriage, in accordance with the terms of the
coalition agreement which requires consensus from all coalition partners for
changes to the status quo on religious affairs.
In response to the study
and the call for civil marriage, Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, chairwoman of the
Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, said “marriages are in accordance with
the religion of Moses and Israel. Civil partnerships should be enabled for
people who can’t marry in a religious ceremony, or who do not want to marry in