The Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association had petitioned the nation’s highest court to rule that a law prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
The case had hoped to achieve marriage equality in Israel in much the same way the US achieved it: by Court decision. Unfortunately the gay community in Israel did not achieve victory, yet.
According to the verdict, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected the petition on two separate grounds. The first being, that in their judgement, the Justices do not believe that the Israeli “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” allows same-sex marriage. The Court affirmed their view that if same-sex marriage were to become legal in Israel, it would have to be done by the legislature.
The second reason the Court gave for rejecting the petition has to deal with how Jewish marriages are handled in Israel. Under current law, all Jewish marriages fall under the authority of the Rabbinical Court. Because the Supreme Court is a civil court, the Justices said they had no authority to rule on the matter.
The verdict, in part, reads:
“To all intents and purposes, Israeli civil law does not recognise same-sex marriage.
“Therefore, the petitioners’ request to have the civil court rule on something under the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts, which applies under certain conditions, is not applicable here.
“Instead, request is based on establishing as an essential precondition that marriage between two individuals of the same gender exists in Israeli law, and it does not.
“In essence, the petitioners are asking the court to recognise same-sex marriage via court ruling, despite the fact that Israeli law does not recognise it.
“Regarding the possibility of recognising marriages which are not performed under religious auspices, including same-sex marriage, there already is a ruling that such recognition is the purview of the legislative body.”
“The history of the LGBT struggle in Israel shows the importance of legal precedences, and we have nothing but to be sorry about this decision.
“However, it is important to read between the lines and see the message from the justices decisions – it indicates unequivocally on the discrimination and the injustice in the current situation,” said Chen Arieli, chairwoman of the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association.
According to the Jerusalem Post, LGBT rights groups have vowed to continue the fight for marriage equality in Israel. The nation, which is among the most politically liberal in the Middle-East, will almost certainly address the issue of same-sex marriage in Knesset at some point. For the sake of Israel’s LGBT community, let’s hope it goes smoother than in Australia.