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Israel To Register Gay Adoptions Performed Abroad

Israel Complies with ACRI's, Court's Demands, will Register Adoptions Performed Abroad by Same-Sex Couples

Jerusalem - January 29, 2007 - The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) welcomes the Interior Ministry's decision to withdraw its petition challenging a 2000 High Court ruling and register adoptions by same-sex couples performed abroad. The decision, the latest achievement in ACRI's lengthy battle to force the state to recognize same-sex couples as dual parents, will finally allow same-sex couples and their children in Israel to live as families before the law, after the state's petition froze the process for many years.

At the same time, ACRI opposes limitations listed in the Ministry's position, such as the condition that adopted children must be the biological offspring of one parent. In addition, ACRI also demands that the Ministry update its software to be able to register these changes - the same-sex couples who had adopted children in Israel and abroad are currently listed as single-parent families because the Ministry's computer system cannot register two mothers or two fathers.

At a hearing on Sunday, December 9, 2007, an expanded panel of nine High Court Justices recommended that the Interior Ministry withdraw its petition, which demanded a further hearing on the landmark ruling in 2000.

ACRI originally petitioned the Court in 1999, on behalf of Nicole and Ruti Berner-Kadish, to demand that the State recognize Nicole's adoption of Ruti's biological son, Matan. Upon Matan's birth in California, Nicole adopted Matan, and under California law the official adoption papers listed both Nicole and Ruti as the boy's legal mothers.

The High Court accepted the petition in 2000 and ordered the Ministry to register Nicole as Matan's mother. Subsequently, the Interior Ministry submitted a petition against the ruling and requested a further hearing before an expanded panel of the High Court. The Ministry claimed that it cannot force Population Registry clerks to register an adoption representing values and norms not enshrined in Israeli law.

The Court dismissed the Interior Ministry's request not to implement the decision, and the Ministry was forced to register Nicole as Matan's mother. In the meantime, the Interior Ministry's rejection of the ruling prevented numerous gay and lesbian couples from registering adoptions in Israel, leaving one parent without any legal connection to the children of his or her partner. Ruti and Nicole have since mothered two more children, and they have not yet been registered as children of both women.

"We are happy that the Interior Ministry has complied with ACRI's demands and the Court's recommendation, and will finally allow Ruti and Nicole and other same-sex couples to enjoy their right to family after such a long struggle," said Dan Yakir, ACRI's Chief Legal Counsel and the attorney representing the Berner-Kadish family. "The Ministry, though, should not impose any more restrictions on same-sex couples who will seek to register adoptions in the future. The right to family is a basic and universal right."

Since the Berner-Kadish family's original petition, the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 on the right of a lesbian woman to adopt her partner's biological child under Israeli adoption law. In light of that decision, ACRI asked the Court to dismiss the Ministry's petition because it became irrelevant.

The Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) in Israel is Israel's leading human and civil rights organization and the only one that deals with the entire spectrum of rights and liberties in Israel and the Occupied Territories. ACRI works to defend the rights of all through three parallel channels: litigation and legal intervention, education, and public outreach.

ENDS

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