A newly-elected member of Israel’s parliament, has proposed a bill to legalise civil marriage and divorce.

Nitzan Horovitz submitted the legislation at the opening session of the 18th Knesset yesterday. 

It  was one of more than 170 bills submitted on the first day.

The bill would allow all Israeli citizens to choose between a religious or civil marriage, and between a religious and civil divorce.

“This is about a basic freedom of choice for every human being, as is accepted in every developed country of the world,” said Mr Horovitz.

“In 2009 Israel, there is no reason we should have to force people to get married on the steps of the rabbinate or on the steps of a city hall.

“Every bill on the subject of ‘civil unions’ simply folds before the religious institution and affect a great number of Israelis.”

Mr Horovitz is the Knesset’s first openly gay MK.

The 44-year-old journalist is a member of the Meretz party.

His civil union bill would include gay and lesbian couples but is unlikely to attract enough support to pass.

The Kadima party, who have the largest group of MKs, has proposed civil unions.

The country’s political leaders are still trying to put together a coalition of parties to form a government after elections earlier this month.