Supreme Court rejects petition to recognize same-sex marriage

Justices stated that the issue should be determined by legislators, not the court.

Man holds a Star of David rainbow flag at the 2017 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Man holds a Star of David rainbow flag at the 2017 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The High Court of Justice rejected on Thursday a petition by the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association to recognize same-sex marriage.
Justices Elyakim Rubinstein (former deputy to the president), Neal Hendel and Anat Baron rejected the claim that according to interpretations of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, same-sex marriage should be recognized. They said there is no contradiction in the state’s current position regarding this issue.
The justices added that it is up to the legislators, and not the High Court, to determine this matter.
It was stated in the verdict that because the Israeli law sees the rabbinical courts as the only authority when it comes to Jewish marriage in the country, the appeal is wrong in its basis because the High Court is a civil court, not a rabbinical one.
“Essentially, the petitioners are asking from the court to recognize same-sex marriage via legislation, despite the fact that they are not recognized by Israeli law,” the verdict read. “On the matter of recognizing marriage that was not conducted in accordance to the religious law – including same-sex marriage – it was ruled [by the court] in the past that it is better that the issue be determined by the legislative branch.”
The justices mentioned in the verdict said they are aware of the trend of recognizing same-sex marriage in the West, and that in some countries – like the US – it was done through a Supreme Court decision. However, they stated, in most countries, such as Canada, France, Spain, New Zealand and Sweden, it was done through legislation.
Chen Arieli, chairwoman of the IGLBT Association, said it is saddening that in such an important case, the court decided to hand the issue back to the legislator and make it a political one.
“The history of the LGBT struggle in Israel shows the importance of legal precedences, and we can only be sorry about this decision,” she said.
“However, it is important to read between the lines and see the message from the justices’ decisions,” she added. “It indicates unequivocally on the discrimination and the injustice in the current situation.”
Arieli said her struggle will continue. As the protests regarding the issue of same-sex adoption succeeded, activists will now shift their efforts to influence politicians on the issue of marriage.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said now that the Supreme Court justices have given the responsibly to the Knesset, is it time that legislators will act to provide same-sex couples the option to be legally married.
“We should say it in a clear voice, once and for all, that LGBT couples have the right to get married just like anyone else in the country,” she said. “They are equal, and this outrageous discrimination against them is a disgrace for a democratic state.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said in an interview to Army Radio: “I will vote for same-sex marriages. In 2017, a father and father and a mother and mother are families. We don’t want to live in darkness.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.