The High Court of Justice has said gay people have the right to become parents through surrogacy, giving campaigners hope of amending legislation that makes only a man and woman eligible.

However, a final ruling has been delayed for six months.

Assistant Chief Justice Salim Joubran on Thursday told gay couples, single women and advocacy groups who petitioned the court that it was time for “widening access to surrogacy in Israel to additional family units which are not included today,” according to documents seen by AFP.

“I find it hard to agree with a situation which prevents single people and same-sex couples fulfilling their right to become parents through surrogacy agreements,” he said.

“I myself cannot see any justice in giving preference to heterosexual parenting over same-sex parenting,” added Joubran, whose comments in court came the same day as thousands attended a Gay Pride parade under police protection in Jerusalem.

But Joubran, in his last decision before retiring from the bench, postponed for six months a ruling on the suit, in order to allow a new draft law, currently before parliament, to be finalized.

Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, December 16, 2014. (Isaac Harari/Flash90)

Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, December 16, 2014. (Isaac Harari/Flash90)

“The time is not yet ripe to rule on the petitions in light of the legislative process in process in parliament,” he said.

The new bill has passed its first reading and is now before a committee preparing it for its second and third readings.

As it stands, the draft still bars same-sex couples and single gay men, but it would extend surrogacy to single women on condition that the host is genetically related to the woman whose eggs are implanted into her.

The judge said the bill was likely to be amended at the committee stage to reflect at least some of the concerns raised by the petitioners, and the court could then make its ruling based on the final document.

“On the question of defining eligible parents, I am sure that the lawmakers will heed the continuing suffering of the petitioners and will act with due efficacy to complete the legislative process,” he said.

He said there was “some merit” to the petitioners’ argument that the clause on genetic links was a breach of their right to parenthood.

Last month, the Israeli government notified the High Court of Justice that it would not lift discriminatory practices against same-sex couples, as they “load additional baggage” on their children. Same-sex couples are legally allowed to be approved for adoption, but they typically must wait longer and can only receive children if no heterosexual couple is available. Many same-sex couples adopt babies from other countries.

The government’s declared opposition sparked outrage from the LGBT community and many senior politicians. (The state said however that it would for the first time allow common-law couples that have been together for at least three years to adopt.) A protest organized last month against the decision drew thousands.

The High Court asked the state reconsider.