Surrogacy is being made available to same-sex couples in Israel, despite the lack of marriage equality laws.

After years of citing religious beliefs as a reason for legal discrimination, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex couples having access to surrogacy on July 11. Lawmakers, however, are now more divided than ever. Israel’s former interior minister, Aryeh Deri responded to the decision by tweeting, “Most of the nation desires safeguarding the tradition of Israel, preserving Jewish family values.”

Despite Deri’s frustration, this legislative change will officially take place six months from now. Once distinct policy changes have been drafted, same-sex couples will be able to use surrogates to have children, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is still not legal in Israel. 

Unlike the United States, Israel does not recognize marriages that are not performed in a religious context. This means that same-sex couples do not have the same legal rights as heterosexual spouses who were married in a religious context. However, two men or two women who are Israeli citizens, but have married in a different country will have their partnership recognized in a similar way to their heterosexual counterparts.

The fact that laws relating to cohabitation have allowed same-sex couples a semblance of freedom to openly express their relationships has brought many to view Israel as one of the most advanced nations in the Middle East. But LGBTQ people in Israel are not as widely accepted as they may seem. “This ugly hatred towards the LGBTQ community … reached an all-time record in 2020,” explains Ohad Hizki, Chief Executive of The Aguda, Israel’s LGBTQ task force.

Although there are several members of government who agree with Deri and continue to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, there are also plenty of Israeli politicians who are excited about these developments. Deputy Foreign Minister of the Knesset, the supreme state body of Israel, Idan Roll, is an openly gay man who celebrated the positive changes for same-sex couples. “I am sure that most of the nation loves and respects my Jewish family that was created through surrogacy,” says Roll.

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