Same-sex couples recognized under law for bereaved families

Defense Ministry confirms same-sex partners of IDF soldiers killed in war eligible for same benefits as other families

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks to troops near the Gaza border, October 19, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)

Same-sex couples will be formally recognized by Israel’s Defense Ministry under the laws pertaining to families of fallen IDF soldiers, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed on Monday afternoon.

Gallant’s confirmation that the benefits available to families of fallen soldiers would also apply to same-sex partners of soldiers killed during the ongoing Operation Swords of Iron comes after Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana requested last Thursday that the matter be clarified.

“At this difficult time, when IDF soldiers and security forces are preparing for a long and difficult war to eradicate Israel’s enemies, LGBT people are also among them,” wrote Ohana, who is openly gay.

“Some of them contacted me on this matter, with significant concern that they would be discriminated against. I think that there is great importance in repeating the obvious — that there is no difference between blood and blood or between one family and another as far as the rights provided by law are concerned.”

In his reply to Ohana’s request, the Defense Ministry wrote on Monday that “our moral debt to the bereaved family is enormous, and we do not distinguish between religion, race, sexual orientation, or any other factors.

“The Defense Ministry interprets the laws of families of fallen soldiers as such that they also apply to same-sex couples.”

In addition to the statement from the Defense Ministry, Gallant released a statement, in which he stressed that “as a country and as a society we have a deep and important commitment toward the fallen soldiers of the defense system and their precious families.

“Just as female and male IDF soldiers serve side by side, and are called to give their lives in defense of the country, without distinction as to their religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation, so will it be in their deaths.”

Since Hamas’s massacre on October 7, in which some 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 222 taken hostage, at least one case of a fallen soldier leaving behind a same-sex partner has been publicized.

Reserve Captain Sagi Golan (left) and his betrothed, Omer Ohana. (Screenshot)

Reserve Captain Sagi Golan and his male partner Omer Ohana were due to get married on October 20. However, Golan fell in battle, fighting Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be’eri on Saturday, October 7.

Golan served in Lotar, an elite counter-terrorism unit within the IDF, and fell on Saturday evening, while leading his unit in the battle against Hamas.

Following Golan’s death, Ohana told Channel 12 in an interview that when notice of his partner’s death arrived, there was no option for him to sign the form, as it was not designed with same-sex couples in mind.

“It made me so angry,” he said at the time. “I was the one who loved him. But I’m not taken into account. And he wasn’t taken into account.”

Sue Surkes contributed to this report.

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