Same-sex couples in Israel were extended the same adoption rights as heterosexual couples on Feb 10. The decision by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz allows gay and lesbian couples to adopt children who are not biologically related to either partner through the Welfare and Social Services Ministry’s Child Welfare Service, or through a third party. Previously, the agency had only allowed same-sex couples to adopt children if the child was one of the partners’ biological offspring.
According to Haaretz, the landmark decision was prompted by a discussion initiated by Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog, who has made the promotion of same-sex adoption a goal. His efforts found that “ben zug,” a term in the Adoption Law that means “partner” or “spouse,” includes a partner of the same sex, and thus a same-sex partner is permitted to adopt the biological or adopted child of his or her partner. Moreover, there is no legal bar against a same-sex couple’s attempt to adopt a child who is not biologically related to either partner.
The Attorney General emphasized, however, that individual adoption cases would be decided by state professionals in accordance with the best interests of the child. He said that the sexual orientation of the prospective parents is a relevant consideration in terms of their fitness to adopt, although no rules exist that say same-sex adoption would not be in the best interests of a child.
Eli Yishai, chairman of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, called the Attorney General’s decision “shocking and disgusting.”