Court grants Israel gay couple divorce for first time

An Israeli court has granted a divorce of a gay couple for the first time in the country's history

Court grants Israel gay couple divorce for first time
03 December 2012

A court has ordered the ministry of interior of Israel to register a gay couple as divorced after it continually rejected their requests.

Yesterday (2 November) a Ramat Gan family court approved the request of Uzi Even, a former Israeli member of parliament and professor at Tel Aviv University, and Amit Kama, who teaches communications at Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, to order Israel’s ministry of interior to register them as divorced.

Haaretz daily reported that the former couple were married in Canada over eight years ago, while marriage proceedings are open to any national, divorce is only reserved for Canadian nationals.

Marriage and divorce in Israel are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts: Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian.

The former couple had no choice but to appeal to the Jewish court (rabbinical) which is vehemently opposed to gay issues, and simply ignored their repeated requests to open divorce proceedings.

They then appealed to the family court in the city of Ramat Gan against Israel’s ministry of interior, which claimed the rabbinical court was not given ‘enough time’.

The judge rejected the state’s arguments that only the rabbinical courts have the authority to dissolve marriage, and instructed Israel’s interior ministry to register the former lovers as divorced.

Judge Yehezkel Eliyue said he based his decision on a previous ruling of Israel’s high court of justice’s instruction to the state to register the marriages of five same-sex couples who were married Canada.

The court ruled: ‘Once the High Court of Justice ordered the registration of the marriage, the possibility cannot be considered that petitioners who have agreed to end their marriage should remain tied to each other.

‘This runs contrary to the rights and liberties of the individual; it goes against Basic Laws and the basic values of justice and equality’.

The judge further stated: ‘Under these circumstances the rabbinic court lacks the authority to hear the petition, and in any case is not the proper forum to discuss it’.

This is a legal breakthrough in Israel as it sets a legal precedent for both gay and straight couples who want to divorce after they got married in a civil court abroad.

Kama told Haaretz daily: ‘From my point of view, even if the state appeals and we have to keep going down this road, the verdict shows the beginning of the undermining of the rabbinate.

‘I am very happy that we may have made a breakthrough’, he said, adding that the decision could affect not only other same-sex couples but also straight couples.

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