Gay couple granted divorce in Israel

( In a decision that could reverberate for the issue of gay marriage in Israel and beyond, an Israeli family court approved the divorce of a gay couple and ordered the interior ministry to officially register them as divorced.

The state of Israel does not recognize civil marriages unless they take place outside the country—Jewish marriages in Israel, instead, are normally performed by rabbinical courts.

Uzi Even, a professor at Tel Aviv University and a former Meretz Member of Knesset, and Amit Kama, a lecturer at the Academic College of Emek Yezreel, got married in Canada in 2004, and fought a lengthy legal battle with Israel’s interior ministry to recognize their marriage in the Jewish state. The High Court of Justice finally registered the couple in 2006. 

Three years later, the couple decided to divorce but realized they could not do so in Canada because that country only recognizes divorce between Canadian nationals. In Israel, marriage and divorce are still managed by a religious court, which had never recognized their marriage. Through a lawyer, the partners submitted a request, now approved by the Ramat Gan Family Court. “Once the High Court of Justice ordered the registration of the marriage, the possibility cannot be considered that petitioners who have agreed to end their marriage should remain tied to each other,” the court said, according to the Times of Israel.

Secular political parties in Israel have long been trying to take control over Jewish marriage and divorce from the chief rabbinate. Another group frequently affected by the issue is the Russian-Israeli community—which has many members who are not Jewish, according to the halakha, and therefore must marry outside of the Jewish state.

Posted on December 3, 2012 .