A judge has overturned a conviction which would have prevented a young gay man from receiving Israeli citizenship and subsequently adopting a child with his partner.
In a groundbreaking ruling which may have implications for other gay couples, Judge Ami Kobo of the Ramle Magistrate’s Court quashed a criminal conviction so as not to block the defendant’s application for Israeli citizenship. Only citizens are able to adopt babies in Israel.
The 25-year-old man, named by the Takdin website as Ahmed Shweiki, was caught by police two years ago and convicted of transporting two Palestinians who had illegally entered Israel.
Shweiki appealed to the court to have his conviction overturned because it would harm his chances of becoming an Israel citizen and destroy the plans he had with his partner to adopt a child.
In what may be a precedent-setting ruling, Kobo found that even though Shweiki had committed a serious crime, due to his background and the potential damage to his future, the conviction should be quashed and the punishment commuted to 300 hours of community service.
The prosecution had petitioned the court to uphold the conviction, to give him a suspended sentence with community service along with probation and a fine, and to revoke his driver’s license.
The defendant admitted to carrying out the crime, but his lawyer claimed that a conviction and criminal record would prevent him from obtaining Israeli citizenship, which he had applied for, and in the future would stop him from building a family by adopting a child with his partner.
There is no private adoption service in Israel and citizenship is a requirement of adoption through the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services.
The judge said consideration must be given to fact that Shweiki had been kicked out of home by his family because of his sexual orientation. The judge also ruled his actions were at the minimum level of the crime and that a conviction would seriously harm his future. Kobo noted that the crime happened more than two years ago and that the defendant had no previous criminal record.
He also took into consideration that Shweiki had completed 12 years of education, volunteered for national service, which he carried out with excellence, and was a qualified emergency medic in the Magen David Adom organization.
The judge held that the defendant only committed the crime because he was struggling to cope after having been forced to leave his family due to his homosexuality.
The judge said that he took into consideration the young age of the defendant, the fact that he had no family support and had to fend for himself and that he was in the process of becoming a citizen of Israel. “There is room to avoid the conviction of the defendant,” he said.
Kobo said that it is reasonable to assume that a conviction would have serious implications, harming the defendant’s citizenship application and his ability to build a family and a home for himself.
In his final ruling the judge quashed the conviction, but sentenced Shweiki to 300 hours of community service and a six-month license revocation suspended for two years.
The groundbreaking judgment may open the doors for other homosexual couples who find themselves in similar circumstances and are unable to become citizens and adopt due to past convictions.