High Court to hear petition on civil marriage

MK Horowitz: Public supports civil marriage, but Israel's political system gives in to ultra-Orthodox pressure.

Alternative wedding, Tel Aviv_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Alternative wedding, Tel Aviv_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
The High Court of Justice is set to hear a petition in support of civil marriage on Monday.
A group of nine civil rights groups, led by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and including the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, Kolech Religious Women's Forum, Hiddush and the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, have asked the court to order the state to explain why it has not established civil marriage for couples for whom at least one partner is either of no religion, is not recognized as Jewish by the Rabbinate or for couples of different faiths.
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Currently, couples in this situation who wish to marry must do so in a civil ceremony abroad. Meanwhile, Jewish Israelis can only marry in an Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony.
This situation violates Israelis' human rights, the petitioners argue.
According to the petition, the current situation regarding religious weddings was established during Ottoman rule and then adopted during the British Mandate period. While the law was suitable to the period in which it was created, today it is an anachronism, the petitioners argue.
"Many Israeli citizens do not belong to a recognized religious community and many others want to marry people of different faiths," the petitioners said.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said in support of the petition that the state had a "duty" to provide a solution to those of its citizens who could not marry in a religious ceremony.
"The situation in which Israel denies the basic human right of marriage to hundreds of thousands of its civilians is intolerable," said Horowitz. "The vast majority of the public support the freedom of choice over marriage, but time after time the political system gives in disgracefully to pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties."