Same-sex gentile partners of Jews can make aliyah

New Interior Ministry ruling extends Law of Return for all recognized married couples

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Flags seen during the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv, June 7, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Flags seen during the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv, June 7, 2013. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In a ground-breaking interpretation of the Law of Return, the Interior Ministry decided to permit non-Jewish same-sex marriage partners of Jews living abroad to immigrate to Israel and be granted Israeli citizenship, the ministry announced on Tuesday.

According to the Law of Return, any Jew has the right to apply for, and be granted, Israeli citizenship. The right is extended under the law to the applicant’s partner by marriage as well. The right, however, was previously reserved only for heterosexual couples.

The new interpretation of the law, which was decided upon at the urging of the Jewish Agency, was effective as of Tuesday morning, the Interior Ministry said, and several same-sex, non-Jewish partners of Jews have already applied for citizenship. One such couple received immigrant status.

“The gates of Israel will from now on be open to any Jew and his family, without discrimination based on his way of life,” Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said in a statement.

In Israel itself, marriage services for Jews are controlled by the state rabbinate, which does not perform same-sex marriages;  nor is there any option of civil marriage for Jews.

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