NGO petitions High Court to allow same-sex marriage in Israel

"We demand that the state provide the basic and fundamental right to exercise our love for whomever we choose, and require legislation to allow gay marriage in Israel," the group says.

Gay marriage  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Gay marriage
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Israeli NGO The Aguda, also referred to as The National LGBT Task Force, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday to allow same-sex marriage in Israel. In their petition, The Aguda claimed that the discrimination against the gay community in the field of marriage is unconstitutional and that if the rabbinical court should choose not to recognize same-sex marriages, those marriages should still be recognized by civil law.
The lawyers representing The Aguda, Ohad Rosen and and Hagai Kalai, argued that in accordance with previous court rulings, if the rabbinical court chooses not to recognize a marriage, the High Court has the authority to approve a marriage in the civil courts.
Oded Fried, executive director of The National LGBT Task Force, said that the group submitted the petition because the right to marriage is a fundamental right and should be available to everyone, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited and must be stopped.
"The reality we live in is absurd; on the one hand, the rabbinical courts do not recognize same-sex marriages, and on the other hand, are reluctant to give up the exclusive jurisdiction to recognize them. It's time for members of the LGBT community to be citizens with equal rights," he said.
"We demand that the state provide the basic and fundamental right to exercise our love for whomever we choose, and require legislation to allow gay marriage in Israel," they said.
Chen Arieli and Imri Kalman, joint-chairmen of The Aguda, called the petition "historic," and said: "The legal situation in which the rabbinical courts do not recognize their right to marry same-sex couples, while at the same time no other court is allowed to do so is unfair."
"It is a distortion of justice and a terrible and grave violation of individual rights, and our appeal is trying to fix this."
If the proposal by The Aguda is not accepted by the Supreme Court, The Aguda announced that they would work toward abolishing Article 1 of the rabbinical courts which states that in matters of marriage and divorce of Jews in Israel, the country's citizens and residents are required to go solely through religious courts.
The Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association issued a statement in favor of the proposal, saying "nine years have passed since the landmark ruling, which held that the state has the obligation to acknowledge same-sex couples married abroad as a married couple, and also in which the Court ordered former Justice Minister Aharon Barak to the Knesset to consider the legality of same-sex marriage in Israel."
"Unfortunately in Israel, same-sex couples are forced to settle for the status of civil marriage, or are forced to marry in a foreign country away from their families, their friends and a loving and supportive environment. "
Last June, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement. The ruling also set a historical precedent for the LGBT community by proclaiming that the right to marry is a constitutionally protected right. The United States joined several other Western countries in recognizing of same-sex marriage, including England, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, France and others.