The Israeli Knesset pushed through the first reading of a bill granting common-law couples the same legal recognition as married partners when claiming compensation, the Ha'aretz newspaper reports. If passed, the law will require the National Insurance Institute to treat gay and lesbian couples the same as married couples in cases of accidental death. The initiators of the bill say the present law does not specifically designate common-law couples as partners. Thus, they say, it is necessary to clarify in law that the term "partners" includes common-law, gay, and lesbian couples.
The bill passed on a 24-16 vote. It still needs approval of a specially selected committee as well as a final vote before becoming law. Under the legislation, each partner in a common-law couple would be entitled to damages in the event of accidental death of one of the partners. One member of the Knesset, Israel Eichler, voiced opposition to the bill, saying, "The legislature is passing laws worthy of Sodom and Gomorrah."