Israel, Politics, Sex & Gender

Is there a Ben Zug in the house?

Following up to an earlier post, gays and lesbians in Israel now have full adoption rights. Israel’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 child’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.)

7 thoughts on “Is there a Ben Zug in the house?

  1. Ben/bat zug does not mean son/daughter of a partner. Ben/bat zug means partner (zug means couple). So I’m slightly confused on what goes on the birth certificate. As for your fantasy about recognized same sex marriages being performed in Tel Aviv, only if the law that determines that only a recognized religious authority can perform a marriage changes will there be recognized same-sex marriages. Or, I suppose it’s possible that the Rabbanut, or the other religious authorities, will do it first, but I find that even more unlikely.

  2. Arie: regarding Tel Aviv, I was thinking along the lines of the various US cities that legalized same sex marriage, while their greater jurisdictions (states, country) did not. I know it’s highly unlikely, but, as I said, baby steps… I think the ben/bat zug is confusing everyone thus far – some news outlets reported it as an amendment to “ben/bat, signifying it would indeed mean “son/daughter of partner.” Others, as you’ve pointed out, understood it to mean that there would just be a lone in the birth certificates for the partner’s name as the second parent. I’m hoping that once the lesbian couple, who took this matter through the courts, gets their children’s birth certificates updated, the meaning of the “zug” will become clearer.
    RSI: Same sex marriages performed anywhere that same sex marriage is legal, including Canada, are recognized in Israel. That ruling was brought in a year ago.

  3. Feygele, sorry to bring this up again, but just to clarify: same-sex marriages are NOT “recognized” in Israel. They can be “registered.” This may sound like the same thing to non lawyers, but they are legally quite distinct. I made a comment about this on the post you put up in December (
    If there have been new developments on this from the attorney general or the supreme court since the original ruling on registration of same-sex unions let me know. I may have missed it.
    Thanks for keeping the Jewschool community current on LGBT issues in Israel!

  4. Feygele- the major difference between Tel Aviv and cities in the US is the legal process of marriage in both countries. Israel does not have civil marriages- so even if the city of Tel Aviv wanted to recognize same-sex marriage, it does not even have the jurisdiction to recognize opposite-sex marriage. You’re asking for baby steps from a baby without any arms or legs.

  5. feygele – everyone knows what “ben/bat zug” means. It means “member of a couple” – i.e. a partner. This is what it means. The law uses the same terminology. The issue at hand was whether a “zug” could be same sex or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.