Last month brought welcome news for gay dads in Israel. On November 21, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ordered the interior ministry to begin granting citizenship to foreign-born same-sex spouses of Israeli citizens in the same way they do for opposite-sex couples.
Previously, married binational same-sex couples in Israel were required to wait seven years before the foreign born partner was naturalized, while the requirement for heterosexual couples was only four and a half years. Unlike their straight counterparts, moreover, foreign-born LGBT spouses were often only granted permanent residency instead of full citizenship.
The recent change, which is being heralded as a landmark decision by LGBT advocates, came about thanks to a legal challenge by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, headed by the group’s chairman, Udi Ledergor.
“This is great news for hundreds of gay couples,” Ledergor said in an interview with i24 news. He noted the news is particularly welcome to LGBT parents in Israel, many of whom struggled under the previous naturalization process. By way of example, he noted a case involving a gay male couple who, after undergoing a surrogacy process abroad that resulted in twins, were unable to gain full citizenship for both of their children.
“One of the children was granted full Israeli citizenship—the one who is biologically related to the Israeli citizen,” Ledergor explained. The other child, “was born from the same twin pregnancy, they go to the same kindergarten, they share the two same fathers, but because the other child is only related to the non-Israeli citizen, he has temporary citizenship.”
Thanks to the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers' successful challenge, the family should soon be able to petition for full citizenship under the same standards set for families headed by heterosexual couples.
Ledergor hopes this victory is just “one of many to come” for LGBT parents. “We’re looking at the full spectrum of discrimination for gay families, and specifically gay fathers, in Israel.”
Though surrogacy has been legal for straight couples in Israel for twenty years, for example, it remains illegal for gay couples and single men and women. Unless they are previously related to the child in question, moreover, gay Israeli men are also prohibited from adopting.
Ledergor’s group has brought petitions challenging both of these practices, and is hopeful they will result in even more good news for gay dads in Israel.