LGBT+ campaigners cast doubt on Israel's pledge to legalise gay surrogacy

by Rachel Savage | @rachelmsavage | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 2 July 2020 16:32 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: An Israeli holds his surrogate-born baby as he disembarks from an airplane, after being evacuated from Nepal and landing at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

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Doubts were raised by the ruling coalition’s failure to support a bill that would have lifted the ban

By Rachel Savage

LONDON, July 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - LGBT+ campaigners cast doubt on a pledge by Israel's justice minister to legalise gay surrogacy on Thursday, saying they did not trust the government to lift a ban that led to huge protests in 2018.

Israel's Supreme Court ruled in February that excluding gay couples from surrogacy was unconstitutional, giving the government a year to amend a 2018 law that brought tens of thousands of LGBT+ people and their supporters onto the streets.

On Tuesday the ruling coalition rejected a private member's bill that would have lifted the ban, leading Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn to promise a law to "ensure equality and right of parenthood to every citizen" would be introduced in 2020.

LGBT+ advocates said they were disappointed, particularly after the Blue and White party, which is in coalition with the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had promised to support surrogacy for gay couples.

"It's very hard to trust them, because we've been disappointed by them so many times in the past," Julien Bahloul, the spokesman for the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Israel is one of the most liberal countries for LGBT+ rights in the Middle East, where most states outlaw gay sex and some impose the death penalty. Same-sex marriages are not illegal, but neither are they recognised.

Israel recognises same-sex weddings performed abroad and children adopted overseas by, or born to surrogates for, gay parents. Adoption within the country of 9 million is close to impossible for gay couples, according to advocates.

The country now has a record high of six openly gay lawmakers, after Yorai Lahav Hertzanu, a member of the opposition, was sworn in last week.

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(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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