Court approves gay divorce in landmark ruling

Tel Aviv court hands down ruling to divorced couple, going against rabbinical court which does not recognize homosexual couples.

Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade (370) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade (370)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Tel Aviv Family Court has made history by being the first Israeli court to approve the divorce of a homosexual couple, the court announced on Monday.
Judge Yehezkel Eliyahu handed down the ruling on Sunday to the now-divorced couple, Amit Kama and Uzi Even.
The court’s ruling went against the state’s claim that jurisdiction over the issue of divorce, a personal status issue, was exclusively in the hands of the rabbinical courts.
There is no judicial process for divorce in the regular court system, since it is normally handled by the rabbinical courts or religious courts for other faiths, but those courts do not recognize or have any proceedings for homosexual couples.
Eliyahu found authority for his decision to approve the divorce based on the High Court of Justice’s Ben-Ari case.
In the case, the court ordered the official population registrar to register five homosexual couples who had been married in Canada as married, instead of single.
Eliyahu said that it was inconceivable that the courts would permit a homosexual couple to get married and then prevent that couple from dissolving the marriage, thus remaining trapped together.
The court stated that such a result would violate fundamental rights and liberties of the individual underlying the basic laws, as well as the state’s basic values of justice and equality.
In other words, approving divorce was “just the other side of the coin” of having permitted homosexual marriage.
Solving the specific jurisdictional issue, the court said that it could exercise its authority over matters normally given to the rabbinical courts, where the rabbinical courts failed to exercise its jurisdiction.
The state had tried to argue that the rabbinical courts should be given more time and that the couple had not waited long enough for it to rule, nor had they exhausted its possible relief.
But the court did not accept this answer, noting that the rabbinical courts do not recognize and would not be expected to handle a case involving a homosexual couple.
In fact, the court said that since it was the only venue where the couple could get relief, it was obligated to act and grant their divorce.
The couple was married in Canada but lived in Israel, and as of 2009, began living separately.
A-year-and-a-half ago, the family court had issued an order dividing up their joint assets.
The case initially arrived at the family court after the Interior Ministry refused to strike the marriage designation from its records and the rabbinical courts declined to intervene.