Following up to an earlier post, gays and lesbians in Israel now have full adoption rights. Israelâ€™s Attorney General Meni Mazuz has instructed the Israeli government agency responsible for child adoption that same-sex couples are now eligible to be recognized as parents. Gay couples will also be entitled to adopt children abroad and register as the childâ€™s parents in Israel. This follows December’s decision.
Mazuz added that his directive established the principle of the legal right for homosexual couples to adopt, but that each request by a couple had to be investigated on its own merits. However, he emphasized that the authorities could not reject an adoption request by a homosexual couple solely on the grounds that having two parents of the same sex was by definition bad for the child.
“In accordance with the High Court ruling,” Mazuz wrote, “‘the well-being of the adopted child’ is a complex principle that includes many aspects, and one may not say a priori that because the couple is same-sex, it will be bad for the child to be adopted by it. Therefore, the question of the identity of the couple is only one of the relevant considerations that must be taken into account together with all the other relevant circumstances and considerations.” [source.]
What I found the most interesting was the divide between which newspapers quote the attorney general, maybe the Welfare and Social Services minister as well, and left it as a simple “this is the ruling, welcome to modernity, Israel” article. And then the newspapers that alloted more space to the “queers can’t raise kids properly” types than to the legal decision itself. I often feel that divisive issues are all the more so because the media makes them that way. Sure, folks are entitled to believe that gay parents can’t raise a child properly, even though there isn’t any scientific research to back it up. (Keyword: scientific. Papers coming out of the Family Research Council do not count.) And, yes, that can and does lead to lively and spirited debate. But when does reporting on conflict cross the line from journalism to creating divisive issues (so that follow up articles can be written, so that more papers can be sold), to printing libel and hatred? Just because a a former deputy minister of Welfare and Social Services believes that a child cannot be properly raised without both a mother and a father, and that society will crumble without solid, “normative families,” does that mean it should be featured prominently in an article? He no longer works there! He no longer has a say in the adoption process of Israel! Just because a reporter knows they can turn to Shas for a good anti-LGBT equal rights sound byte, does that mean they should? Worse, if you go to the JPost archives and try to read the (free) article abstract, it implies that Mazuz said the heterosexist family stuff. Debate is healthy, but this issue is closed. The courts ruled; and the attorney general did as well, following a discussion in the knesset. Let’s move forwards, shall we?
Now that a child can be “ben/bat zug” (“son/daughter of partner”) on their birth certificate, instead of the previously available “ben/bat,” and with the knesset agreeing with the courts that the term “partner” in the Adoption Law (over which the court case was initially fought) means “partner of any gender, in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship,” how much longer until gays and lesbians can get married in Israel? (Well, in Tel Aviv anyway – let’s allow for some baby steps here.)