The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality on Sunday said it would allow cohabiting couples to register their relationship and enjoy marital rights, in a protest of the government’s refusal to recognize same-sex couples or those not wed under the state’s religious authorities.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai said the move, coinciding with the country’s Pride Week, makes those who register eligible for housing tax discounts, as well as easing enrollment of their children in public daycares and schools.
“In honor of Pride Week, we decided to challenge the government and allow couples to register on the basis of a declaration,” said the mayor.
“We hope the government will also enter the 21st century and advance in law the rights of the [LGBT] community — the right to marry, to equal parenting, to protection from hate crimes and workplace bullying and more,” said Huldai on Facebook.
Though same-sex marriage is not technically illegal in Israel, there is no institution authorized to carry it out. In a system inherited from Ottoman times, people can only marry in Israel through their religious institutions: Jewish couples must marry through the Chief Rabbinate, which refuses to carry out same-sex or interfaith marriages; and Christians, Druze and Muslims all marry through their own state-sanctioned and publicly funded religious legal systems.
Though designed primarily for LGBT couples, the change of policy would also allow interfaith couples in Tel Aviv and those opposed to Rabbinate weddings to sidestep the authorities.