Court approves gay divorce in landmark ruling
Tel Aviv court hands down ruling to divorced couple, going against rabbinical court which does not recognize homosexual couples.
Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade 2010 Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
The Tel Aviv Family Court has made history by being the first Israeli court to
approve the divorce of a homosexual couple, the court announced on
Judge Yehezkel Eliyahu handed down the ruling on Sunday to the
now-divorced couple, Amit Kama and Uzi Even.
The court’s ruling went
against the state’s claim that jurisdiction over the issue of divorce, a
personal status issue, was exclusively in the hands of the rabbinical
There is no judicial process for divorce in the regular court
system, since it is normally handled by the rabbinical courts or religious
courts for other faiths, but those courts do not recognize or have any
proceedings for homosexual couples.
Eliyahu found authority for his
decision to approve the divorce based on the High Court of Justice’s Ben-Ari
In the case, the court ordered the official population registrar to
register five homosexual couples who had been married in Canada as married,
instead of single.
Eliyahu said that it was inconceivable that the courts
would permit a homosexual couple to get married and then prevent that couple
from dissolving the marriage, thus remaining trapped together.
stated that such a result would violate fundamental rights and liberties of the
individual underlying the basic laws, as well as the state’s basic values of
justice and equality.
In other words, approving divorce was “just the
other side of the coin” of having permitted homosexual marriage.
the specific jurisdictional issue, the court said that it could exercise its
authority over matters normally given to the rabbinical courts, where the
rabbinical courts failed to exercise its jurisdiction.
The state had
tried to argue that the rabbinical courts should be given more time and that the
couple had not waited long enough for it to rule, nor had they exhausted its
But the court did not accept this answer, noting that
the rabbinical courts do not recognize and would not be expected to handle a
case involving a homosexual couple.
In fact, the court said that since it
was the only venue where the couple could get relief, it was obligated to act
and grant their divorce.
The couple was married in Canada but lived in
Israel, and as of 2009, began living separately.
the family court had issued an order dividing up their joint assets.
case initially arrived at the family court after the Interior Ministry refused
to strike the marriage designation from its records and the rabbinical courts
declined to intervene.