Wedding dance 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Hiddush)
Israel finished last out of 194 countries in a survey for freedom of marriage policies, with a grade of zero. The survey was taken by civil rights group "Hiddush."
Israel received the low grade because of what the survey refers to as the Chief Rabbinate's religious monopoly on the insitution of marriage.
"Israel must allow civil marriages alongside Orthodox marriages and allow the free choice of every person to choose who they want to marry... this includes same sex marriages... the way they practice more and more in all civilized countries," Labor party head Shelly Yacimovich said in response to the survey's findings.
Couples who want to marry without going through the Chief Rabbinate leave Israel in order to do so, many of whom go to Cyprus for this purpose. According to the survey, there are hundreds of thousands of couples who wish to marry in Israel, but cannot because of "the Chief Rabbinate's stringent marriage requirements."
Forty-eight percent of countries that were surveyed were considered to have complete freedom of marriage, while 29% were considered to have partial restrictions. Israel joined the bottom 23% along with 44 other countries who are considered to have severe restrictions.
Amongst these 44 other countries, 33 are countries with a Muslim majority, including: Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
"Israel's low ranking in the freedom of marriage survey, alongside Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, is alarming and disgraceful, and inconsistent with our country's identification as a western democracy," Yacimovich said.