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Israel rejects bill to extend surrogacy to same-sex couples

5 November 2018
Appeared in BioNews 974

Israel's parliament, the Knesset, has rejected a bill to allow single men and gay couples equal access to surrogacy. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted against the bill, despite repeatedly professing his support for the gay community: 'I support surrogate parenthood for the LGBT community but at this moment we don't have a coalition majority to pass such legislation. When we do, we will do so.'

A bill allowing single women to access surrogacy legally within Israel was passed on 18 July by the Knesset, but an amendment put forward at that time by MK Amir Ohana from the Prime Minister's Likud party to allow single men the same access was rejected. 

Netanyahu said then that he would not vote for the amendment because it would jeopardise the bill passing, but said that 'if [Ohana] introduces a law for fathers I will support it'.

Netanyahu received criticism at the time for going back on a previous pledge to support surrogacy for gay couples. His secular Likud party is part of a ruling coalition including several orthodox and ultra-orthodox parties who have conservative views on family. The coalition could break down if Netanyahu were to vote against his partners.

'The right to a family is a basic right,' said Zionist Union party MK Itzik Shmuli, who is openly gay. 'For more than 20 years it has been denied to an entire community, my community. The law allows couples of only a specific type to realise their right to be parents... The elementary demand here is for equality.'

Gay men may seek surrogacy outside Israel but the cost is prohibitive for many families. The bill also explained that because 'surrogacy outside of Israel has not yet been regulated by Israeli legislation, it raises many legal and moral difficulties, and the State of Israel is required to retroactively recognise and grant the child Israeli citizenship.'

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