High Court orders government to redo birth certificates for same-sex couple moms

Ruling hailed as historic win for LGBTQ parents seeking to have second mother added to child’s legal document following years-long struggle

People dance underneath a giant rainbow banner during the 21st annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in Jerusalem on June 1, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
People dance underneath a giant rainbow banner during the 21st annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in Jerusalem on June 1, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

The High Court of Justice ordered the Population and Immigration Authority to issue birth certificates for lesbian couples with the names of both parents listed as mothers of their children in a landmark ruling Thursday.

In his verdict, Acting Supreme Court President Justice Uzi Vogelman wrote that the state could not give preference to biological parentage over legal parentage, ordering that women who had established their legal status as parents through adoption be listed on birth certificates alongside birth mothers.

The petition was brought in 2017 by a group of nine same-sex couples who had children through anonymous sperm donation, after the Population and Immigration Authority refused a request to amend birth certificates so both mothers appeared on the document following a legal adoption process by the second parent.

The authority had argued that a birth certificate reflects biological parentage at the time of birth, and is a document that is “frozen in time.”

Vogelman rejected the argument regarding biological parentage, writing that if, at the time of birth, the child had two parents, excluding the non-biological parent from the birth certificate would constitute preferential treatment to biological parentage over legal parentage.

This would constitute “a harmful message… that while biological parentage is ‘real’ parentage, non-biological parentage is inferior and suspicious parenting, a sort of ‘conditional’ parentage,” he wrote.

Daniela Ya’akobi, Hagai Kalai, and Achinoam Orbach, attorneys who represented the petitioners, praised the ruling for “putting an end to ugly and unnecessary discrimination.”

“A birth certificate is one of the most important documents a person has. It confers a variety of [legal] rights and is also used to determine citizenship in foreign countries. Despite this, for all these years, the state insisted on preventing children from having… a birth certificate that reflects the reality of their lives,” they said.

Activists from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in Lebanon shout slogans and hold up a rainbow flags as they march in which they are calling on the government for more rights in the country gripped by economic and financial crisis during ongoing protests in Beirut, Lebanon, June 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

They called for the government to adopt policies aligned with equal rights for those who identify as LGBTQ without being forced by a court ruling.

Currently, the State of Israel does not have provisions for civil same-sex marriage. Couples can get legally married abroad to qualify as married in the eyes of the state, and some municipalities offer legal benefits to same-sex couples.

Justice Alex Stein noted that birth certificates should include options for “parent/parent,” “father/father,” or “mother/mother” pairings, depending on the family’s request.

This, he said, aligns with the principle that “the state should be neutral in regards to the types of marriages and families that its adult citizens choose, and should not dictate one for them one monolithic option for relationship and family.”

“Therefore, it was determined that there is no place for distinguishing between [different types of] parents in the field of certification when in the field of substantive law there is equality between parents,” the court said in a statement on the ruling.

Hila Peer, chair of the Aguda Association for LGBT Equality in Israel, told the press that it was “a historic day on which our families [become] equal.”

“I call on lesbian couples to contact the Interior Ministry, correct the historical injustice done to every family, and register as two mothers on their children’s birth certificates. Our families are equal, our love is equal, and we will continue to march until we reach full equality for all members of the gay community,” Peer said.

Most Popular
read more: