Israel’s top court has ruled that both members of same-sex couples who adopt children must be listed on the child’s birth certificate, putting them on an equal footing with opposite-sex couples.
A three-judge panel of the High Court of Justice delivered the ruling Wednesday, The Times of Israel reports. It came in a case brought by two gay men who had adopted a son together. When they tried to obtain a birth certificate from Israel’s Interior Ministry, officials with the ministry refused to put both men’s names on the certificate.
But having both names on the document not only recognizes the parents’ rights; it is in the best interest of the child, the judges ruled.
“The principle of ‘the good of the child’ argues for the recording of his entire family unit,” Justice Neal Hendel wrote for the panel, “and doesn’t permit us to limit ourselves to only one of his parents in the birth certificate…. The contrast with the treatment of a child adopted by a heterosexual couple, who has the right to have both adopted parents written in a birth certificate, is a contrast that applies both to the child and to the parents.”
He added that “it is unreasonable for the couple to be [legally] recognized as parents but for the certificate not to give expression to that fact.”
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri had opposed the listing of both same-sex spouses on birth certificates, leading to a dispute with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who said Deri’s position constituted unlawful discrimination, the Times reports. The ruling is expected to settle the argument and have an impact on two pending cases, one brought by a female couple seeking to have both their names on a birth certificate for one woman’s biological child, and one brought by a transgender man seeking to be listed as father rather than mother on his child’s birth certificate.
“The court clarified that this policy of nitpicking, which abridges the rights of LGBT parents for no reason, cannot stand,” Hagai Kalai and Daniella Yaakobi, attorneys for the couple involved in Wednesday’s ruling, said in a prepared statement. “We can hope that the court’s clear statement will lead the Interior Ministry to reconsider its policy of refusing to register two parents of the same sex in their children’s birth certificate, and refusing to register transgender parents in their children’s birth certificates with their correct gender.”
The ruling “pulls the rug out from under the state’s strange arguments whenever LGBT parenthood comes up,” added Hen Arieli, chair of Aguda-Israel's LGBT Task Force, which joined the couple in their suit. “It’s time to end the illegitimate discrimination against us. We will continue to fight in the streets, in the courts and in the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] [Israel’s parliament] until we are no longer second-class citizens.”