High Court hints it will pass same-sex marriage legalization question to Knesset

LGBT rights groups have been petitioning for the state to enable gay couples to wed Israel for years.

An activist waves an LGBT flag near Israel's Knesset building (photo credit: REUTERS)
An activist waves an LGBT flag near Israel's Knesset building
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The High Court of Justice has signaled to an NGO requesting that it legalize same-sex marriage that it will pass the issue to the Knesset to resolve.
At a hearing on Monday for a group of homosexual couples represented by the Association for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered in Israel, attended by Deputy Supreme Court President Elyakim Rubinstein, Justice Anat Baron and Justice Neal Hendel, the court said, “a citizen who fulfills all of his obligations, why shouldn’t he be afforded all rights?” But, Rubinstein added, “we need to follow the law, and less than a kilometer from here is the Knesset.”
Rubinstein pressed the association, asking how this case was different than the case of Eli Axelrod, who requested that the High Court permit him to enter into a civil marriage with his Jewish wife even though only his father was Jewish.
Rubinstein explained that the High Court had to reject the request since the Knesset has not addressed the issue of civil marriage and that LGBT couples were no worse off, even if they were not being given a solution.
Baron made this even more explicit, saying, “we cannot ignore that the question before us is civil marriage… and that is for sure a heavy and important issue, and there is a lot to say about it in that there is no consensus in Israeli society maybe, unfortunately, in terms of what that means here.”
She added: “From the perspective of values, they [your claims] definitely resonate and demand a solution. The question is if the solution you need is to be found in court or legislation.”
Association lawyer Hagai Kalai said the rabbinical and civil courts mistreat LGBT couples in their ruling actions far more than other complex situations.
Rubinstein responded that LGBT issues until recent years “as a historical fact were not recognized by the general public – they called this once ‘being in the closet.’” Kalai hit back that the association had existed for 45 years. The court said that even as worldwide there had been tremendous progress on the issue, it was still relatively recent and had been slow.
The justices’ ruling was put off to an undetermined date.