Israel’s LGBT Association files a petition to the High Court demanding that marriage between same-sex couples be recognized.
The petition is the first of its kind to be filed by the association.
“According to previous rulings, if the rabbinical court does not recognize [same sex] marriage, the High Court has the authority to approve marriages in the civil courts,” the association says in a statement.
Despite widespread public support for same-sex marriage – a 2013 poll by the daily Haaretz found 70 percent of Israelis backing it – Israel’s contentious parliamentary politics have not been able to translate that support into legislation.
Israeli marriages are performed under laws inherited from Ottoman times that grant each Israeli religious community’s state-recognized leadership sole jurisdiction over marriage. These Ottoman religious communal structures, called millets, were continued by the British mandate. After Israel’s 1948 independence, Israel too maintained the system, citing among other considerations its obligations to the country’s minorities.
As a consequence, marriages in Israel are performed only through religious institutions. Jewish couples must marry through the Chief Rabbinate, and Catholics, Druze and Muslims all marry through their own state-sanctioned and publicly funded religious legal systems.
In that light, while same-sex marriage is not actually illegal in Israel, there simply isn’t any institution empowered to perform such marriages.