Ministers reject gay surrogacy bill

Israel, Russia working on adoption plan

Participants during Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade (photo credit: REUTERS)
Participants during Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted on Sunday to postpone voting on an amendment to the controversial surrogacy law passed in July, which expands eligibility for state-supported surrogacy to include single women while excluding single men and gay couples.
Before the law passed, state support was only given to married heterosexual couples.
The amendment, proposed by Yesh Atid MK Yael German, would have changed the law so men would be included, regardless of their sexual orientation and whether they are married. German said that despite failing to get the government’s support from the ministers, she would propose the bill in the Knesset on Wednesday.
“There is no limit to the shame and hypocrisy of this government,” German said. “The delay is proof that the prime minister is acting against the gay community. But we will not give up, and the bill will come to the Knesset plenum, where I call upon members of the coalition to vote according to their conscience and let the bill pass.”
German, who heads the Knesset’s gay pride caucus, said the government had further proven its hypocrisy by signing an agreement with Russia on Sunday that helps Israeli couples adopt Russian babies, but excludes gay couples.
“The state has not only closed the doors to Israeli gay couples becoming parents in Israel, but also supports excluding them from becoming parents via Russia,” German said. “But then Netanyahu goes and boasts to the UN that the gay community in Israel has equal rights.”
The Justice Ministry said it was not Israel’s choice and that according to the agreement, Israel must follow Russia’s internal regulations, which prevent same-sex couples from adopting.
Passage of the law in July generated consternation in the opposition and liberal groups.
Controversy was created when Netanyahu voted against an amendment proposed by Likud MK Amir Ohana granting single men access to surrogacy. Netanyahu had previously said he would support the amendment.
Earlier that week, Netanyahu posted a video saying “MK Amir Ohana raised a simple point on the surrogacy bill. Single mothers [will have] the right to surrogacy and single fathers will not. This is simply not fair, and we need to fix it. And so I told him in the Likud faction meeting that I would support an amendment that he will submit.”
During the vote, however, Netanyahu failed to support the amendment. Ohana backpedaled that the prime minister would support a new amendment were it to be submitted in the Knesset’s winter session.
Netanyahu said subsequent to the vote in a video posted to YouTube that he still supports surrogacy for mothers and fathers.
“Today we voted in favor of a law for mothers. I told MK Ohana ahead of time that I would not support his current amendment because it would topple the law and then mothers would not have access to surrogacy. Despite that, I said that if he introduces a law for fathers I will support it. This is the right thing to do.”
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.