One thing people don’t really understand about Israel is that it’s a very
non-traditional place. I’m not saying that people are more open and less
conservative here, but referring to a sense of real tradition. Our
societal institutions here are relatively new – 100 years maximum – so
everything is questionable and therefore ever so changeable.
ago, parents were not happy if their child turned out to be gay, because they
thought it meant they would never have grandchildren. For Israelis,
that’s a real curse.
But things have changed, and the new trend in Tel
Aviv now is “gay with kids.” Sometimes, there are so many gay dads strolling
down Rothschild Boulevard, you might think you’re on a film set.
truth is that Israelis are very trend-oriented. The minute gay couples having
children became a real option it turned into a flood.
present gay men want when they reach 30 these days is beginning the process of
becoming a father. And if they don’t, their parents start pushing. “You should
have a child while we are still young and can help you” is the
For the single gay man, the first option available to become a
father is to pair up with a straight single woman – usually over 40 – who wants
to become a mother.
The creation of these gay-straight alliances are
sometimes not without complications, especially around the time of birth. But
usually within a year everything falls into place. And surprisingly
enough, the option that would seem easier and more logical – having a baby with
a lesbian woman or a couple – is less common.
But the option everybody’s
talking about now is surrogacy. Until five years ago, this option was only
available to much wealthier men who could afford the high standards of the US.
The big fear was that in cases of premature birth, the bills for the incubation
period would be monstrous. Still, more and more couples were starting to
use North America as a nesting area.
The next step was India. It started
little by little but in two years it turned into a flood. A gay Israeli
entrepreneur named Doron Mamet went with his spouse to Delhi to have twin kids.
When they returned to Israel, they established a company that now gives
surrogacy services to Israeli couples, most of them gay men. Within three years,
the company had placed almost 100 babies with gay Israeli couples.
WENT well until a year ago, when a religious, right-wing judge together with the
Eli Yishai-led Interior Ministry decided that in order to bring home babies from
abroad, both fathers would have to go through DNA tests. This led to a big
demonstration and public pressure, but it also frightened a few gay couples, and
brought the realization to the community that things could not remain the
The legal situation today in Israel is that surrogacy is only
allowed only for straight people. But there is movement to change the
Due to a campaign a few years ago led by former Tel Aviv
Municipality councilman Itai Pinkas and his spouse Yoad Arad, there is a
government committee that is looking into this matter, and scheduled to give its
recommendations in February.
Meanwhile, a young couple, Moshe Laniado and
Gal Peleg, started a Facebook campaign to change the law so that gay couples can
use a surrogate mother in Israel.
Within a week, they went from the Web
to the real world, organizing a vibrant meeting attended by over 200 people at
the Tel Aviv Gay Center. They received plenty of news coverage and and
support, but soon found out that their real opponents would come from feminist
What the young gays were not aware of is the fact that many
feminist groups regard surrogacy as exploitation of poor women. The
award-winning documentary Google Baby
by Zippi Brand Frank, which showed the way
women in India are almost prisoners during pregnancy, did not help to change
Some feminists believe that gay people, more than others,
should be aware of this aspect of surrogacy. But most of these women are afraid
to make their opinions public since gay men have a very strong lobby and the
women fear they will be tarred with the epithet “homophobe.”
everybody is waiting for the committee. A Facebook demonstration/ event was
canceled last week at the last minute because organizers decided it might upset
the committee members. But if the government committee decides against allowing
gay surrogacy, you can be sure the Israeli media will become a war
Meanwhile, if you really want to see something, go to the Landver
coffee shop at the Tel Aviv Gay Center on a Friday afternoon and you’ll find a
new demographic category being created – kids who have more then one
dad.The writer is a journalist, TV host, filmmaker and gay activist. He
was recently named the most influential LGBT person in Israel.
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