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Israel's coalition rejects bill to extend surrogacy rights to gay men

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a session at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on March 12, 2018
Menahem KAHANA (AFP)
Lapid opened the discussion by quoting Netanyahu's promise to pass the law, which he filmed at the time

Israel’s coalition government voted down a bill to grant gay men the right to surrogate parenthood, after lawmakers recently extended eligibility to single women, but not to men.

The latest bill rejected explained that “in recent years a phenomenon of Israelis traveling abroad has developed in order to bring a child into the world through a surrogate resident of the foreign country. In light of the fact that surrogacy outside of Israel has not yet been regulated by Israeli legislation, it raises many legal and moral difficulties, and the State of Israel is required to retroactively recognize and grant the child Israeli citizenship.”

The bill presented by the opposition was supported by the prime minister, who nevertheless said that the parliament did not have enough support from the coalition to pass it.

"I support surrogacy for the LGBT community, but until this moment we do not have the majority in the coalition to pass the law. When we have the majority, we will pass the legislation," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday in a Knesset debate on the surrogacy law he opposed.

"It's not a matter of right and left, but personal and human," the premier added. "My wife and I have often helped men and women in the LGBT community.”

Over the summer, Netanyahu voted against extending a surrogacy bill to apply to gay couples, despite voicing his support for it just two days earlier, causing an uproar in the LGBT community.

Israel’s parliament (Knesset) did pass the surrogacy law, but it only allows for single women or women medically unable to have children to seek out surrogacy.

At the time, Netanyahu argued that supporting the clause would have brought down the entire bill and "mothers would not have access to surrogacy." Instead he pledged to keep his original plan to advance amended legislation to provide surrogacy access to fathers as well as mothers.

Opposition parliamentarian Yair Lapid did not hold back his censure of the prime minister following the vote, flat out calling him a “liar.”

Netanyahu was forced to participate in the discussion following 40 signatures of MKs gathered by members of the opposition, who required Netanyahu to attend the hearing, to listen to the speakers and then respond to them.

MK Yair Lapid opened the discussion by quoting Netanyahu's promise to pass the law, which was documented in a video he filmed a few months ago with parliamentarian Amir Ohana.

"It's not even against your list of priorities," Lapid told Netanyahu in his speech. "On you list of priorities, ​​there is something far beyond the right of people to be parents - and it is your right to be prime minister. In the end, there is not one ideological object left in your body. It's all politics. "

"I ask you, Prime Minister, to look me in the eyes and tell me that I can not be a good enough father," said parliamentarian Itzik Shmuli from the labor party. "For 22 years, thousands of people in this country have realized their dream of being parents, and hundreds and thousands of others have been sentenced to life in isolation and discrimination."

"We want to accept one simple principle, the principle that a person is a person," added Shmuli. "We ask, demand and expect to do the right thing and adopt equality in surrogacy and adoption, in the end, everything is in your hands."

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