A bill to grant male samesex couples with children the same tax credits as
heterosexual couples passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday,
following a raucous debate in the plenum.
The measure passed by 44 votes
to 20. The issue generated great conflict within the coalition, between Yesh
Atid and Bayit Yehudi. The latter party vetoed the bill earlier this month
because it objected to language that gave legal recognition to homosexual
According to Bayit Yehudi, the two parties worked out a deal on
Tuesday night, in which they agreed to pass the bill with its original text in
the preliminary reading and then to iron out the details during the committee
The agreement was reached during a meeting of the faction
chairmen of the coalition parties, during which a general discussion took place
on the frequent divisions and arguments that legislation on religion and state
caused within the coalition.
At present, the tax code gives different
credits to men and women, with women able to claim greater tax breaks than
Male same-sex couples are therefore entitled to lower tax breaks
than heterosexual couples, where the female partner can claim the higher tax
The bill would give same-sex couples, whether male or female,
the same rights to tax credits as heterosexual couples enjoy, with one of the
partners able to claim the tax credits applicable to women.
the deal, Bayit Yehudi chairman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett voted in
favor of the legislation in Wednesday’s vote.
MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit
Yehudi), who worked on brokering the deal with Yesh Atid faction chairman MK
Ofer Shelah, did not manage to vote on the bill because of the uproar in the
plenum at the time, according to her spokeswoman, but asked that the protocol
record that she was in favor of it.
A source in Bayit Yehudi told The
on Wednesday morning that the goal of the bill from the party’s
point of view was to change the tax guidelines.
According to the source,
the agreed upon text of the bill, when adjusted in committee, will state that
the finance minister, Yair Lapid, who is also chairman of Yesh Atid, will be
given authority to grant tax credits in “additional instances,” beyond those
currently permitted by law.
The Bayit Yehudi official said the purpose of
the bill was to enable same-sex couples to obtain the tax rights, but without
providing legal recognition of same-sex partnerships.
opposes recognition of same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
and Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol were reluctant to acknowledge the terms of the deal
with Bayit Yehudi during the Knesset debate, and appeared to insist that the
legislation would include recognition of gay couples.
A Bayit Yehudi
source accused Kol and Lapid of breaking the agreement.
Lapid said that
“this bill will not [simply] melt or go away, and in accordance with the
agreement of the coalition chairmen, we will deal with it and advance it,
because it implements and strengthens the holy principle that says that every
person has the right to live exactly as he chooses to live.”
after the vote, that the bill represented an important milestone in the process
of securing equal rights for same-sex couples.
“I will preserve the
principles and the essence of the bill throughout the legislative process,” she
said, which would seem to contradict Bayit Yehudi’s demands that the bill will
grant equal tax rights but not legal recognition of same-sex
A spokeswoman for Kol, who introduced the bill, said she
was not aware of any “physical document” or agreement, and that the party would
work to preserve the “principles” of the bill in committee.
A Yesh Atid
party spokeswoman said that the purpose of the legislation was to grant the same
tax rights for the benefit of children of same-sex partnerships as were
available to other children, and that the details of the bill would be worked
out “with agreement between coalition factions” in the committee process, adding
that it was impossible to know how the measure would look after this process was
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On pointed out the discrepancy in
the positions of the two coalition parties during the debate and departed the
plenum, along with the rest of the Meretz MKs, in protest of the failure to
include recognition of the rights of gay couples in the bill.
Nitzan Horowitz, the only openly gay member of the Knesset, and a sponsor of the
bill, said that “there is a limit to hypocrisy,” and that the party “will not
lend our hands to hollow political spin on the back of the gay community, on
behalf of a conflicted and failed coalition.”
Lapid said during the
debate that the bill was designed to “fix an injustice” and to allow same-sex
couples to benefit from the same tax credits that heterosexual couples
“The [Hebrew] word for tolerance comes from the word suffering,”
he explained. “It’s not easy to accept what is different from you.”