A large group of gay and lesbian Israeli parents are being airlifted out of Nepal after being caught up in the earthquake.
They were in the country to access commercial surrogacy that they are banned from using in their own country.
Surrogacy is legal in Israel but only for heterosexual couples so singles and same-sex couples often travel overseas to access commercial surogacy.
With countries like Thailand cracking down on the practice, there has been a growth in the sector in Nepal.
As a result 52 Israeli parents, expecting parents and friends and relatives were in Nepal during Saturday’s earthquake and the Israeli Government is working to get them and their children home.
Under normal circumstances the children would need to undergo DNA testing in Nepal to confirm their parentage before they would be allowed into the country but Israeli Interior Minister Gilad Erdann has said that that will be waived in this instance until the children arrive in Israel.
The first three babies were to be flown to Israel on Sunday along with eight family members.
The situation that these Israeli families have found themselves has lead to the Haaretz newspaper publishing an editorial today calling for an end to discrimination in access to surrogacy in Israel.
‘The earthquake in Nepal brought disaster upon both residents of the country and visitors to it,’ the Haaretz editorial read, ‘Among those visitors were Israelis who were seeking to bring a child into the world via a surrogate mother, something homosexual couples are legally barred from doing in Israel.
‘The fathers and their babies are now in distress not only because of conditions in the wake of the earthquake, which are liable to endanger the babies’ health … Abolishing discrimination in access to surrogacy would benefit not only the would-be fathers, but also the surrogate mothers.
‘When surrogacy takes place in Israel, it does so under the watchful eye of a committee that investigates the fitness of all the parties concerned, the surrogate mother’s informed consent and the legality of the contract she signs.’
The editorial called on lawmakers in the Knesset to pass an amendment to the country’s surrogacy law that would finally allow Israeli same-sex couples to have the same access to surrogacy as opposite-sex couples.
GSN understands that many LGBTI Nepalese are among those have lost their lives or homes as a result of the earthquake and its aftershocks which have killed at least 3,000 people. Others LGBTIs are actively supporting the aid and rescue efforts.
Israel is sending a military delegation to Nepal to offer aid in the emergency and help repatriate any of the 700 or so Israelis currently in the country who wish to return home.