The Israel High Court of Justice on Sunday recommended the state clarifies legal procedures for gay couples seeking surrogacy, as a legal framework does not exist and this amounts to discrimination.
The court ruling came yesterday (3 January) after it heard a case involving two gay male couples asking to be recognized as the parents of children born to surrogate mothers in the United States.
An expanded panel of seven Supreme Court Justices heard the petition of two gay couples, reported Haaretz daily.
As Israel has no legal framework, couples seeking to be recognized as parents of children born to surrogate mothers must undergo genetic testing, to prove their paternity and formal adoption processes.
The state said it will consider the court’s recommendations, as to how to shorten and simplify the process.
If this is not done to the satisfaction of the petitioners the court my force a ruling.
One of the two couples petitioning the court refused to undergo genetic testing.
The couple asked the state to recognize both of them as the child's (now two and a half years-old) parents based on a judicial order, medical documentation and a birth certificate - all from the United States.
The second couple, who was the focus of Sunday's hearing, the biological father underwent a genetic test while his partner asked the court to recognize his legal parental status without the lengthy adoption procedures.
The judges asked the state to consider easing procedures for Israelis using foreign surrogates, while making the process of recognizing parenthood more flexible and shortening the process.
The director of Civil Law Division in the State Attorney's Office, Haya Zandberg, told the court that the state is unable to supervise foreign surrogacy and that is why it needs genetic testing.
The court however, responded that Israel does not have a policy to demand paternal genetic testing for immigrants’ child certificate, therefore there is no reason the state would demand it in the case of surrogacy.
Supreme Court vice president, Miriam Naor, who headed the panel, criticized the current situation as discriminatory against gay couples.
She said: ‘the law blocks access of many couples to surrogacy, not only same-sex couples.
‘They are forced to go abroad because Israeli law does not allow them surrogacy procedure at home.
‘These people – who are good and productive citizens – are not given any solutions in the current legislation’.
The court urged the state to speed up the surrogacy recognition process and find some legal measures; otherwise it may force a ruling.
However the court advised the petitioners that while they had the right to ask for a precedent-setting decision based on principle, a legislative process or a ruling may take some time.
Speaking with GayStarNews, Shai Doitsh, chair of the Aguda, Israel’s main LGBT organization said: ‘The right of parenting is a basic right and the state must recognize our right to raise a family in Israel and simplify procedures.
‘The Supreme Court, has once again proved its pivotal role in protecting freedom in Israel, to which we are thankful.
‘Our struggle is not yet concluded, but this is certainly a step forwards’.