A-G endorses progressive policy for gay parenthood

Attorney-general agrees to game-changing policy for homosexual parenthood of child born through surrogacy.

Gay couple with kids 521 (photo credit: Boaz Berney)
Gay couple with kids 521
(photo credit: Boaz Berney)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday announced a game-changing progressive policy shift for how the state addresses homosexual parenthood of children born through surrogate motherhood.
According to the old policy, the member of the homosexual couple who is the child’s biological father must pass a paternity test in which a sample of his genetic tissue is checked.
Subsequently, the second man in the couple – who has no biological relation to the child, but was jointly involved in all of the decisions and who expects to be equally involved in parenting – must go through a lengthy process to legally adopt the child.
Couples have complained that the adoption process for the second man can easily take up to three years.
Under the new policy, although the biological father will still need to pass a paternity test, upon passing the test, the family courts will be immediately authorized to issue a special parenthood order – and the second man will be able to become a full-fledged trustee of the child until the adopting process concludes.
Effectively, this will grant the two men full parental rights and powers at a much earlier point.
The new change in policy does have some conditions attached.
First, it will not actually go into effect for about another month, until the state announces a list of conditions and tests that the genetic father must fulfill.
Second, it is designed to only be a temporary solution, until the Knesset takes up the issue and formalizes a more permanent and comprehensive solution to the issue and related problems.
The decision comes in the wake of two key turning points.
The first was in February, when a seven-member panel of the High Court of Justice pressed the state to liberalize and streamline the process for recognizing the homosexual parenthood of a child born through surrogate motherhood.
While the court did not actually issue a formal ruling, it aggressively pushed the state toward answering soon whether it would be willing to change its policies based on suggestions from petitioners and the court.
In other words, the court implied it was ready to decide on a change in policy if the state did not do so first.
Although the state expressed certain formal reservations throughout the hearing, it did not contradict most of the petitioners’ fundamental arguments about the alleged inefficiency and unfairness of the current process.
The second key event was a formal endorsement by the Mor-Yosef Commission of a liberalizing and streamlining of procedures, which may be taken up by the Knesset.
At the February High Court hearing, one of the two homosexual couples who petitioned the court said that it had been through the process once before and that it had taken three years.
The petitioners asked the court to alter the process such that it conforms to those in several Western countries, such as Canada, where an order is issued declaring the homosexual couple as parents after one of the men in the couple passes a paternity test (even if administered overseas).
The Canadian system has no requirements for additional adoption procedures or local paternity tests.
There is a gag order on the petitioners’ names to protect their identities and to protect the children involved, and the hearing itself was held behind closed doors.
Both couples found surrogate mothers in the US, where the biological fathers have already passed paternity tests.
One of the couples asked the court to recognize both of the two partners as the child’s parents without undergoing a paternity test in Israel.
The couple stated that the American medical documents and birth certificates in its possession should be sufficient for automatic recognition of their status as the child’s parents in Israel.
The male child in question is already two-and-a-half years old.
The couple also has a five-year-old daughter who was born through an American surrogate mother.
In the case of the daughter, the couple did submit to the paternity test and went through the long adoption approval process.