Israel Supreme Court: Same-sex marriage is not a right

Israel is now marketing itself internationally as welcoming to the gay community. Participants in the annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem are shown here on July 29, 2010.

The Supreme Court’s judges unanimously rejected on Thursday a petition by the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association to recognize same-sex marriage.

The group argued that the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty should be interpreted to allow same-sex marriages. They had hoped that, at very least, the present law banning marriage equality would be ruled unconstitutional.

It was stated in the verdict that the petitioners’ request to have the civil court rule on something under the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts, which applies under certain conditions, is not applicable here.

“Essentially, the petitioners are asking from the court to recognize same-sex marriage via legislation, despite the fact that they are not recognized by the Israeli law,” the verdict reads.

“On the matter of recognizing marriage that was not conducted in accordance to the religious law – and same-sex marriage among it – it was ruled [by the court] in the past that it is better that the issue would be determined by the legislative branch.”

The justices mentioned in the verdict that they are aware of the trend of recognizing same-sex marriage in the western world, and that in some countries – like the US – it was done through a Supreme Court decision. However, they stated that in most world counties, such as Canada, France, Spain, New Zealand and Sweden, it was done through the parliament.

Rubenstein emphasized that the “law preservation” section of the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty is specifically intended to preserve issues regarding personal status. Therefore, he said, you cannot call upon this law in order to assist the petitioners.

“The section on law preservation was intended from the start to protect, among other things, the right of rabbinical courts to rule. The petitioners’ view of the requested support as commentary, as opposed to partial dismissal, is an attempt to circumvent the law’s essential ruling in section 10, and to receive constitutional support for exactly that which those who wrote the Basic Laws clearly intended not to allow.”

Chen Arieli, chairwoman of the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association, said that it is saddening that in such an important case, the Supreme Court decided to hand the issue back to the legislator and make it a political one.

“The history of the LGBT struggle in Israel shows the importance of legal precedences, and we have nothing but to be sorry about this decision,” she said.

“However, it is important to read between the lines and see the message from the justices decisions – it indicates unequivocally on the discrimination and the injustice in the current situation,” she added.

Arieli said that her struggle will continue. As the protests regarding the issue of same-sex adoption succeeded, activists will now shift their efforts to influence politicians on the issue of marriage.

Israel afforded more than $5 million towards a fund for LGBT community initiatives. The money will be provided to various government ministries for initiatives set up to benefit LGBT Israelis.



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