Israel: Gay surrogacy bill passes first reading in Knesset

Aaron Day October 28, 2014
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Israel’s surrogacy bill passed its first reading through the Knesset on Monday, overcoming a hurdle and becoming one step closer to law.

The bill, first announced in January, is intended to stop the need for gay Israeli couples to go abroad to adopt by granting same-sex couples the right to have children via surrogates in Israel.

It was first submitted to the  Ministerial Committee for Legislation by Health Minister Yael German, however it had stalled in March when housing minister Uri Ariel appealed against it, claiming the bill creates “moral and ethical” questions.

On Monday, it passed its first Knesset reading, with a majority vote of 45 MKs. 15 MKs opposed the bill and three MKs abstained.

In a brief, the bill gives further guidelines for private surrogacy services in Israel, which now need to be certified and licensed by the Justice and Health ministries.

The brief states: “Alongside the need to regulate surrogacy services is Israel, we are witnessing a growing phenomenon of Israelis who travel overseas to use foreign surrogates — a situation that, due to lacking legislation, raises many legal and moral difficulties, which Israel is required to address after the fact, when the parents wish to return to Israel with their newborn and have the state recognize the child as their own.”

Health Minister Yael German said: “This bill is about the principle of equality, regardless of one’s sexual orientation or the composition of the family unit.

“Everyone has the right to become a parent. This bill also seeks to regulate surrogacy services procured overseas, to ensure that such proceedings protect the legal rights of all those involved.”

However, MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism said: “The health minister presented a bill meant to destroy the nature of family as we know it.

Shas MK Nissim Zeev added: “This is a corrupt bill and only corrupt [MKs] can support it. We are treating the import and export of babies as if we were dealing with frozen meat. This bill is morally depraved.”

There has been conflict over gay rights in Israel’s ruling coalition. Last year, the Bayit Yehudi party vetoed the bill after it objected to language in the bill which gave legal recognition to homosexual couples.

In December, a bill allowing for same-sex civil marriage was defeated in the Israeli Knesset.

Also in December, the Israeli Tax Authority issued instructions that same-sex couples with children should receive child tax benefits immediately.

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