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Landmark Petition For Marriage Equality Filed At Israeli High Court 

Landmark Petition For Marriage Equality Filed At Israeli High Court

Landmark Petition For Marriage Equality Filed At Israeli High Court

Israel may become the first marriage equality country in the Middle East and Asia.

Israel is, without a doubt, the most progressive society in the Middle East when it comes to LGBT rights. Tel Aviv's annual pride regularly attracts more than 100,000 participants and the seaside city is celebrated as one of the top LGBT destinations in the world. There's still a lot of progress to be made however, both in terms of societal acceptance and legal protections and rights. Israel does recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad, but marriage equality is not legal within the country—civil marriages of any kind are not legal, which means interfaith couples also have to marry abroad in order to bypass the strict religious standards for marriage. However, a leading LGBT rights group, Aguda, has just filed a landmark petition seeking to change that. 

The Israeli site Ynet reports that Hen Arieli and Imri Kalman of Aguda were inspired to seek the juridicial route to same-sex marriage by the recent victory in the United States. As the rabbinate controls marriage and divorce in Israel, all ceremonies are carried out in accordance with Jewish law (halacha). In certain cases where halacha does not grant the religious council authority—such as when someone with the last name Cohen, who are believed to be descendants of the High Priests, wants to marry a divorcee—the rabbinate orders a secular court to perform the ceremony in its stead. As homosexuality is illegal under halacha, the rabbinate are unable to marry two people of the same sex, and Aguda argues that secular courts should then be empowered to do so. 

In recent years, there have been pushes from center-left political parties like Labor and Hatnuah (now combined in the form of Zionist Union), Meretz, and Yesh Atid to legalize marriage equality, but the ruling religious-right government has quashed legislative attempts. Arieli and Kalman are, therefore, hoping to see a repeat of what happened in places like Brazil and the United States, where a ruling by the country's supreme courts legalized equality. That the Israeli High Court didn't reject the petition outright, the two believe, is a good sign. 


Photo via Instagram/harryrubacuori

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