Israel passed a law allowing same-sex couples, single men and trans people to access surrogacy in the country, ending a years-long legal battle between LGBTQ + activists and
Israel’s health ministry issued a letter on Jan. 4 informing the public of a new policy granting surrogacy rights to “anyone in Israel,” which is expected to come into effect next week. While same-sex couples have enjoyed full adoption rights since 2008, surrogacy was only available to single women and heterosexual couples, limiting the opportunity for many to become parents.
People denied access to surrogacy services often had to travel abroad in order to fulfill their dreams of parenthood.
Government leaders hailed the end of the surrogacy ban in Israel as a “historic day” for the country’s LGBTQ + community. “Today we are ending injustice and discrimination,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said at a press briefing, according to The time of Israel. âEveryone has the right to parenthood.
Israel’s LGBTQ + community has long fought to ensure equal access to surrogacy for all citizens. Gay couple Etai and Yoav Pinkas Arad have twice asked the High Court of Justice to be granted the right to conceive through surrogacy, a process of assisted reproduction that involves a third party carrying a fetus in the long term. After a delay of several years, the court affirmed in a 2017 ruling that granting surrogacy rights to same-sex couples is a complex issue that is beyond its jurisdiction.
“As we have often noted, policy making, especially policy with respect to sensitive issues high on the public agenda and matters of professional expertise, is not the job of this Court. , which lacks professional knowledge resources available to lawmakers, âthe court wrote at the time.
But the High Court then overturned its own ruling in 2020, ordering lawmakers in the Knesset, Israel’s unicameral legislature, to draft a surrogacy law within a year. When parliamentarians missed the binding deadline, judges issued an order last July effectively rewriting the country’s laws, with new policies due to take effect in six months.
“Since for more than a year the state has done nothing to propose an appropriate amendment to the law, the tribunal ruled that it could not bear the continuing serious human rights damage caused by the agreement of existing surrogacy, âthe court said.
With the ban finally set to be lifted next week, LGBTQ + advocates celebrated the next step.
âAfter years of struggle – in the streets, in the courts, in the Knesset and in government, we have succeeded and this is the achievement of all of us,â the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel wrote in an article. on Facebook on January 5. .
To some, however, this achievement may come across as yet another example of âpinkwashing,â a term used to describe Israel’s alleged attempt to project a progressive image amid human rights violations in Palestine. Similar criticism has been leveled at the Tel Aviv International LGBTQ Film Festival and the city’s annual Pride Parade, the latter being one of the largest in the world.
But despite Israel’s pro-LGBTQ + image, much progress remains to be made. Although foreign same-sex marriages are recognized, same-sex couples cannot legally marry in Israel. And laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace only cover sexual orientation, leaving trans workers vulnerable to prejudice.
Other countries have also made recent progress towards removing discriminatory legislation limiting the reproductive rights of LGBTQ + people. Last June, France canceled its ban on in vitro fertilization treatments for lesbian couples and single women following the passage of a law by its parliament. Bill was hugely controversial: passage required over 500 hours of debate, UK newspaper says The Guardian, before winning a majority of almost two-thirds.
Many countries, including Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Taiwan, continue to ban surrogacy for all citizens. Even though France is expanding the legal methods of assisted reproduction, it still completely prohibits surrogacy.