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Israeli gay couples petition high court for marriage recognition

Israeli gay couples petition high court for marriage recognition

Two gay couples petitioned Israel's supreme court on Monday to overrule a decision by the interior ministry and recognize their 2003 Canadian marriages, an Israeli human rights group said. Yoav Leff of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel said the group submitted the petitions on behalf of Yossi Ben-Ari and Loren Shuman, and Yosef Bar-Lev and Yaron Lahav, who were married in Toronto in November 2003. Leff said the petitions were submitted after the interior ministry refused to recognize the couples' unions. "In recent weeks we asked the interior ministry to change the status of these people from single to married," he said. "They refused, saying marriages between individuals of the same sex are not recognized in Israel." Interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad acknowledged that the couples had submitted written requests for the ministry to recognize their marriages but said the ministry was obligated to turn them down because Israeli law does not recognize same-sex marriages. "This is a matter for the judicial authorities to take up," Haddad said. "If the law is changed, then we will recognize the marriages." Leff said the petitions on behalf of the two gay couples were based on a supreme court decision from the 1960s that obligates authorities to recognize a foreign marriage between a Christian and a Jew. The court ruled in that instance that marriage documents issued by foreign countries have to be honored by Israeli authorities, he said, adding that the same precedent holds in this case. On March 11, four other gay Israeli couples were married in ceremonies in Canada. One of the couples, Etai Pinkas, 31, a member of the Tel Aviv city council, and 32-year-old Yoav Arad, manager of a real estate company, said they would fight to have their marriage recognized in Israel.

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