Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples and single men will be able to become parents through surrogacy.
The court had previously ruled that the law allowing only heterosexual couples and single women to access surrogacy was discriminatory (see BioNews 1037) and gave the government a year to revise the legislation. This deadline passed in March this year without changes being made.
'Since for more than a year the state has done nothing to advance an appropriate amendment to the law, the court ruled that it cannot abide the continued serious damage to human rights caused by the existing surrogacy arrangement' Chief Justice Esther Hayut wrote in the decision.
Consequently, the court ordered the state to allow same-sex couples and single men to access surrogacy. The change in the law will take place over the next six months in order to allow the formation of professional guidelines and for the authorities to prepare for change.
The health minister Nitzan Horowitz confirmed that his department will comply with the ruling. 'The High Court was right in its assertion that the current arrangement was deeply discriminatory, and we are ending it now,' he said.
Etai and Yoav Pinkas Arad, a gay couple, who first appealed to the court against the surrogacy law in 2010 said: 'This is a big step toward equality, not only for LGBT in Israel, but for everyone in Israel... Nobody has the right to discriminate against parents and deny them access to anything just because they aren’t a man and a woman'.
However, conservative parties in Israel have expressed their opposition towards the change in the law, raising concerns about the effect that this may have on Israel’s Jewish identity.