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Israeli party blocks civil unions bill in favor of its own bill

Israel’s Yesh Atid party has torpedoed an attempt by the opposition Labor party to put forward a civil unions bill so that it can move forward with its own more inclusive civil unions bill
Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid
Photo by Yair Lapid 2013 campaign

Ministers from Israeli Government coalition party Yesh Atid have torpedoed an attempt by the Labor Party to move a bill forward, which would have provided civil unions for same-sex couples, in favor of legislation they are developing themselves.

Labor Member of the Knessit (MK) Stav Shaffir’s bill was rejected by Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation and would have allowed same-sex couples to wed via civil unions.

Yesh Atid have civil unions as part of their political platform but are instead looking to extend civil unions to all Israeli couples that religious authorities refuse to marry or that do not want religious marriages.

Currently marriages are only performed by religious authorities in Israel.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was the only minister to vote in favor of Shaffir’s and her Hatnua party has drafted its own civil unions bill which would extend civil unions to all Israeli couples who the rabbinate refuse to marry.

To settle the differences between the parties, Education Minister Shai Piron, Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan and MK Elazar Stern are working to create a compromise bill that all of the parties that support civil unions can agree on.

Labor Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich called Yesh Atid’s ministers' decision to block the bill a missed opportunity.

‘It’s unfortunate and upsetting that even in the one area where [Yesh Atid] could have made a deep change in people’s lives and allow people of the same sex to get married, as is customary in the enlightened world, they let the conservative right in the government decide for them,’ Yacimovich wrote on Facebook.

However Yesh Atid Finance Minister and party leader Yair Lapid said that by excluding heterosexual couples from civil unions, gay couples would remain second class citizens under Labor’s proposal.

Israel already recognizes same-sex marriages performed overseas.

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