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Diaspora Jews urge Israel to offer equal adoption rights for LGBTQ couples

Une femme et son enfant lors de la parade de la Gay Pride à Tel Aviv, le 3 juin 2016
Jack Guez - AFP
A government memo to the High Court last week said it would continue the ban on adoption for same-sex couples

Nearly 200 prominent Jewish leaders and groups from North America urged that Israel's government end its ban on same-sex couples who seek to adopt children,

The joint call came in a petition organized by A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel LGBT organization.

Other groups that supported the move include Hillel International, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union of Reform Judaism, high-profile Jewish LGBT leaders and more than 60 US rabbis, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The petition came on the heels of an Israeli government memo to the High Court last week that it would continue discriminating against same-sex couples, as they "load additional baggage" on their adopted children, according to JTA.

Technically, same-sex couples are permitted under the law to be approved to adopt children. But typically they must wait much longer than heterosexual couples and can only receive children if no straight couples are available.

In practice, virtually no same-sex couples are approved for LGBT adoption.

The government's court memo came in response to a petition by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, which advocated for equal treatment in the adoption process, said JTA.

"The government’s brief and position have created a justifiable uproar throughout Israeli society," said the letter. "LGBTQ Israelis, their families, and allies across the country are speaking out with unparalleled unity at both the callousness and ignorance of the government’s position."

The petition noted that while Israel stood at forefront of guaranteeing government benefits and ensuring LGBTQ army service, the issue of adoption by same-sex families has been a stark anomaly in Israel's track record.

"There are many important qualities that lead to strong, well-adjusted families – but the sexual orientation of parents is not among them," according to the letter.

A Wider Bridge's executive director, Arthur Slepian, said to JTA, "I think the letter reflects the extent to which LGBT equality has become a core issue for many [non-Orthodox] Jewish communities in America."

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