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The Intersection of Law, Society, and LGBTQ Adoption Rights in Israel

Pride parade in Jerusalem/ credit Daniel Rachamim, The Open House

By Yuval David

The plight for human rights, with the conversations and arguments surrounding each issue, is an intricate tapestry — the threads of family, identity, and equality often intertwine. A prime example is the current deliberation of the Israeli Supreme Court on LGBTQ adoption rights.

As it stands, the law permits only married heterosexual couples to adopt. This legal framework is not unique to Israel; it mirrors a global trend where societal norms dictate legal structures, often at the expense of marginalized communities. However, the Israeli context presents a unique confluence of religious, political, and social dynamics that make this issue particularly complex.

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The promise to amend this discriminatory law, made in 2017, remains unfulfilled. This delay is not merely a political oversight; it is a manifestation of the societal inertia that often impedes progress in human rights. It is a stark reminder of the chasm that exists between legal commitments and societal attitudes, a chasm that we must strive to bridge.

The often-highlighted LGBTQ community in Israel is seen as one of the most vibrant in the world.  Yet, the Israeli LGBTQ community continues to face discrimination and inequalities within the society that legally must serve and protect it.  This is why LGBTQ people are seen in the many protests and demonstrations happening now, and this is why LGBTQ people have been outspoken in our protests and demonstrations for decades. Since we contribute to society just like every other citizen, the government and society must protect us with the same rights granted to every other citizen.

Thus, the current political climate in Israel adds another layer of complexity to this issue. These days, politicians try to undermine the independence of the judiciary, a trend that threatens the very foundations of our democracy. In such a climate, the role of the Supreme Court in safeguarding the rights of minorities becomes even more critical. It is the court’s duty to act as a bulwark against political pressures and to uphold the principles of justice and equality, even when they are politically inconvenient.

The argument that a child’s interest would not be served by placement in a same-sex household, as posited by Social Services Minister Ya’akov Margi, is a reflection of this chasm. It contradicts empirical evidence, including studies from his own ministry, that demonstrate the well-being of children is not contingent on the sexual orientation of their parents. This dissonance between evidence and policy underscores the need for a more nuanced, evidence-based approach to policymaking.

The current workaround, where LGBTQ individuals can adopt only as single parents is a symptom of a deeper issue. It is a manifestation of the ‘othering’ of LGBTQ individuals, a subtle yet insidious form of discrimination that reinforces societal norms at the expense of individual rights.

This issue is not just about adoption rights; it is about the broader question of how we define family in the 21st century. It is about challenging the heteronormative paradigm of family and acknowledging the diversity of family structures that exist in our society. It is about recognizing that love, commitment, and the desire to nurture a child are not exclusive to heterosexual couples.

The Israeli Supreme Court has an opportunity to redefine the legal understanding of family. By upholding the rights of LGBTQ individuals and couples to adopt, the court can send a powerful message that the law should reflect the diversity of our society, not reinforce outdated norms.

This is not just a legal issue; it is a societal one. It is about the kind of society we aspire to be. Do we want to be a society that values diversity, that respects individual rights, and that recognizes the myriad ways in which a family can be formed? Or do we want to be a society that clings to outdated norms, that discriminates against those who do not conform, and that denies children the opportunity to be part of a loving family?

The choice is ours to make. Israel is a democracy.  We must continue to fight for our rights and advocate for our LGBTQ community – and, remember, the LGBTQ community intersects with so many other communities and identities.  The ramifications of LGBTQ discrimination and inequality affect more than just LGBTQ individuals.  Diversity, respect, and love are choices. Define family in a way that reflects the reality of our society. Choose to be a society that values all individuals and all families. This is the Israel that I believe we can be, and this is the Israel that I hope we will strive to become.

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The author, Yuval David, is an active leader in the Israeli, American, and international Jewish and LGBTQ communities. He is an Emmy-Award winning actor, director, and filmmaker who has won over 100 international film festival awards, and has played roles in shows and productions with ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Hulu, FX, HBO, Comedy Central, Disney, and Sony.

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