Hundreds of members of LGBT community protest surrogacy law in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jewish Agency for Israel is to become the first state organization to provide financial assistance to gay employees seeking child surrogacy services overseas, a step designed to help defray the high costs of such a process which the state does not allow for homosexual couples.
The initiative was led by the Jewish Agency’s Chairman of the Executive, Isaac Herzog, who sought to acknowledge the right of each employee to realize his or her dream of starting a family, regardless of the employee’s gender identity, sexual orientation or marital status.
Last year, the government expanded financial assistance for surrogacy services to include single women, but controversially excluded single men and gay couples, and overseas surrogacy is not covered by Israeli health insurance providers.
The Jewish Agency’s decision applies to any of its 1,250 employees, including around 450 emissaries abroad, who wish to have a baby with the assistance of an overseas surrogate, whether the employee is a single man or woman, or part of a gay or heterosexual couple.
The organization will provide employees requesting assistance with a loan of up to NIS 40,000 per employee, which is intended to alleviate the financial obstacles to surrogacy, and “to express the organization’s support for this complex process.”
The loans from the Jewish Agency will be available to employees and emissaries for the purpose of medical procedures before surrogacy, and for the process of surrogacy itself.
Additionally, the Jewish Agency said that any child born to an emissary through surrogacy while the emissary is serving overseas will be entitled to all benefits normally given to children of emissaries.
The loans will come with preferential terms that are better than conditions provided by commercial banks, and will pay lower interest rates and better repayment terms than standard loans.
Overseas child surrogacy is not covered by Israeli health insurance providers, and since child surrogacy is an expensive process which can cost hundreds of thousands of shekels, it can be prohibitively costly without state financial assistance.
“We are also making a symbolic statement, because it reflects the egalitarian stance of a large organization that is recognizing the right of every man or woman to actualize their wish to be parents and to raise a family, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Herzog in announcing the initiative. “The Jewish Agency is one big family, and all its members are equal.”
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