Current Affairs

Gay adoption ruling may set precedent in Israel

Adam Lake March 18, 2008
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An Israeli court has ruled that a gay couple can both register to be their adopted son’s father.

The landmark decision, made by the Family Court in Tel Aviv, may well set a precedent for other gay couples.

Giora Shavit and his long-time partner Avi Shadiv have now registered to jointly adopt their five-year-old son. The four year old boy, who comes from Georgia, has no registered biological parents.

Under Israeli law only one of the men could adopt the child, however, for more than a year the couple have fought to both be recognised as parents.

Mr Shavit told The Jerusalem Post :

“I wanted to become a father to him in every sense of the word.

“It was important that we work on establishing our family and setting up a system of guardianship for our son.”

The couple were represented by gay and lesbian rights advocate Ira Hadar.

Hadar is well known in Israel for successfully challenging the Supreme Court in the case of a lesbian couple who wanted to adopt each other’s biological children, two years ago. Commenting on the case he said:

“Today, we are seeing more alternative families becoming accepted by society and it just proves that everyone has the right to raise children within the lifestyle they choose.

“Hopefully this will pave the way for all gay and lesbian couples to sign onto the waiting lists to adopt children.”

The case was a first in Israel and there has been a surge of gay and lesbian couples who wish to adopt.

However, other couples may have a more difficult time trying to get joint adoption status when their biological parents are known.

“Our son has no registered biological parents so it was just an issue of adding another adopted father,” said Shadiv.

The ruling has attracted some opposition from Ultra-Orthodox groups such as the Shas party.

The political party, who won 12 seats in the 2006 election, previously claimed that such decisions “damage the Jewish image of the State of Israel.”

Shas have caused much controversy over the years their Ultra Conservative beliefs.

In 2001 the spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, provoked outrage with a sermon calling for the annihilation of Arabs, referring to them as vipers, he later refered to the Israeli gay and lesbian community as, “filth.”

More recently Shlomo Benizri, a Shas MP, claimed that recent earthquakes that have hit Israel are a consequence of gay rights laws.

In December the High Court of Justice upheld its decision in 2000 that Interior Ministry officials could not refuse to register the lesbian partner of a woman with a child as the child’s adopting parent.

An American-Israeli lesbian couple who weren’t registered as dual mothers of their son despite a Court’s ruling, won their case before Israel’s Supreme Court.

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