NGO ranks Israel low on marriage freedom

Survey released by Hiddush shows Israel ranks among the bottom 23% that includes: Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

Wedding dance 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Hiddush)
Wedding dance 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Hiddush)
Hiddush, a religious-freedom lobbying group, published its new Worldwide Freedom of Marriage Project on Sunday, comparing the status of marriage freedom in various countries.
The project’s findings, ranked from 0 to 2, placed Israel in the lowest of three categories, on a par with countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
Hiddush ranked Israel so low because of the exclusive jurisdiction of religious authorities in Israel over marriage, which makes it impossible for a Jew to marry a non-Jew in the country, or for interfaith marriages in general.
Marriages of such couples conducted abroad are subsequently recognized by the state however, as are common law marriages. Hiddush did not state whether or not such provisions are available in the countries ranked alongside Israel.
In response to the study, Labor chairwoman and opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich called for the establishment of civil marriage in Israel, saying that the fact that Israel was ranked alongside Afghanistan was “worrying and embarrassing.”
She also said homosexual marriage should be permitted “as has been enacted in France, New Zealand and more and more in other enlightened nations.”
Hiddush’s study found that there are severe restrictions on marriage in 45 out of 194 countries, or 23 percent, including Israel; 56 countries, or 29%, have partial restrictions; and 93, or 48%, enjoy complete freedom on issues of marriage.
“Israel is the only Western democracy which ranked zero,” the study noted.
Among sources employed by Hiddush for the annual reports of the United States Department of State on freedom of religion and human rights as well as data from the European Council website, and the World Bank.
Just 10 days ago, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid promised to institute civil marriages in Israel when speaking to the UJA-Federation of New York.
However coalition partner Bayit Yehudi remains firmly opposed to civil marriage.
Deputy Religious Services Minister and Bayit Yehudi MK Eli Ben-Dahan told The Jerusalem Post earlier this month that the party would veto any attempt to institute civil marriage, in accordance with the terms of the coalition agreement which requires consensus from all coalition partners for changes to the status quo on religious affairs.
In response to the study and the call for civil marriage, Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, said “marriages are in accordance with the religion of Moses and Israel. Civil partnerships should be enabled for people who can’t marry in a religious ceremony, or who do not want to marry in religious ceremonies.”