Israel to open surrogacy to same-sex couples as of next week

January 4, 2022 GMT

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel’s health minister said Tuesday that same-sex couples will be able to have children through surrogate mothers in Israel starting next week, following a Supreme Court decision made last year.

The court in July annulled parts of a surrogacy law that prevented gay couples from having children through a surrogate in Israel. That move came after the court ruled in 2020 that the law, which had expanded access to single women but excluded gay couples, “disproportionately harmed the right to equality and the right to parenthood” and was unlawful. It gave the government of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a year to draw up a new law, but parliament failed to meet the deadline.

The court said last year that the change in the law would take six months to come into effect, on Jan. 11, to allow the formation of professional guidelines.

“Full equality. That is the simple demand and it is the goal of the LGBT struggle, the long struggle of my community,” said Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who is openly gay. “Equality before the law and equality of parenthood.”

Horowitz said the change in the law would also expand surrogacy to single men and transgender people.

Under the previous regulations, Israeli same-sex couples looking to become parents could not engage a surrogate, and were often deterred by the additional costs of finding one abroad.

The state had argued that the law was intended to protect surrogate mothers but the court ruled that it would be possible to strike a balance that would not discriminate.

In contrast with much of the conservative Middle East, Israel is generally tolerant toward its LGBTQ community. Gays serve openly in Israel’s military and parliament, and many popular artists and entertainers are openly gay. Nonetheless, obstacles — including the absence of civil marriage that would allow same-sex marriage — remain.