Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon vowed on Friday to help advance LGBT rights in Israel, saying he supported the establishment of a framework for civil marriage in the country which would enable same-sex couples to be recognized as a family unit by the state.
Speaking at an event in Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said he was “mobilizing to allow members of the [LGBT] community to have a family life, including marriage.” The defense minister added that marriage is a basic human right, “and that it is our duty to allow members of the community to build a family, to have and raise children, to live, to work, to create and contribute to Israeli society.”
Earlier this year, in a ground-breaking interpretation of the Law of Return, the Interior Ministry decided to permit non-Jewish same-sex marriage partners of Jews living abroad to immigrate to Israel and be granted Israeli citizenship.
According to the Law of Return, any Jew has the right to apply for, and be granted, Israeli citizenship. The right is extended under the law to the applicant’s partner by marriage as well. The right, however, was previously reserved only for heterosexual couples.
In Israel itself, marriage services for Jews are controlled by the state rabbinate, which currently does not perform same-sex marriages; nor is there any option of civil marriage for Jews. However the state does recognize civil marriages performed abroad.
Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.