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Israel: Justice Minister tables bill to allow same-sex civil unions

Joseph McCormick June 16, 2013
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Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, has announced that she is on Sunday to present to ministers a bill to allow civil unions for gay couples.

The bill to recognise same-sex civil unions would also include provisions for civil marriage for straight couples who do not meet the religious standards for marriage, which is currently the only form of marriage that can be performed within the State of Israel.

The bill, which is to be debated by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, was initiated by MK Meir Sheetrit of the Justice Minister’s Hatnua party.

It is expected to be broadly supported from the coalition, with members of the committee from Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu and Likud, having expressed support for same-sex civil unions, reports the Times of Israel.

It has already been met with opposition from the Orthodox Jewish Home party, however, which has asserted that it will exercise its veto right to attempt to stop the bill from passing.

The party said that it wanted to examine the issues raised by the bill before bringing it to parliament for a vote. Speaking in a radio interview, Livni referred to the Law of Return, which determines automatic citizenship rights, which allows some people to be recognised as Jewish for immigration rights, who are unable to marry under the state-run rabbinate’s rules.

“We want to find a solution for the people who came here under the Law of Return and who find themselves unable to marry. We are talking about some 300,000 people,” Livni said, speaking to Army Radio on Sunday morning.

“The bill will make it possible for them to marry and be recognized by the state,” she continued. “It’s an appropriate solution that has been a long time in the making, and has been floated many times, but has previously been met with strong opposition from the ultra-Orthodox parties.”

As well as allowing same-sex civil unions, the bill would offer civil marriage for couples unable to meet religious criteria. Currently citizens who aren’t registered as belonging to an organised religion are forced to marry abroad, or live with a lack of options in Israel. Those who convert to Judaism are only recognised if they undergo Orthodox conversion.

Gay couples can marry overseas in countries that allow same-sex marriage and then have their relationships recognised as a marriage within Israel.

More: Civil partnerships, civil union, equal marriage, gay marriage, gay wedding, Israel, Israel, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, Middle East, same sex marriage, Same-sex wedding, tzipi livni, wedding

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