An Amazing Thing Happened in Israel
Beth Tzedec
Mar 14th 2020

Hello everyone and Shabbat Shalom.

About two weeks ago, an amazing thing happened in Israel.

Bagatz, which is a part of the national court that contributes to balancing systems within the Israeli democracy, has announced that Israel has to make it legal for same sex couples to bear a child by means of the process of surrogacy. This happened after an unsuccessful appeal of a gay couple that wanted to have a child via surrogacy.

The existing law regarding surrogacy was approved in 2018 , and according to it only a heterosexual or single woman can have a baby in the process of surrogacy.

Many people from the LGBTQ community have protested that law, because it doesn’t approve the process for same sex couples or for single men. Others joined their protest, including many people who simply believe that’s wrong.  Same sex couples in Israel that desire to have child related to them genetically must do the surrogacy process in a different country that will allow it. Many have to go to the US and spent tremendous amounts of money on the process, which isn’t cheap in the first place.

The reason why the surrogacy law didn’t include same sex couples in the first place and why the appeal wasn’t accepted, according to Prime Minister Netanyanu, is that “the current political situation doesn’t enable laws of this kind”.

To us it sounded quite vague, but we understood from it that the conflict is a religious one. The religious parties, especially the ultra-orthodox parties who were a part of the coalition, would not have accepted this law due to their belief that a family cannot have two parents from the same gender.

We see it as another result of the conflict between the Jewish and the democratic definition of Israel- the laws in a Jewish state need to consider the beliefs of the mainstream of Judaism in Israel, but a law cannot discriminate against people according their gender or sexual preference and prevent them from having a family.

This issue is very close to my (Alona's) heart for two reasons;

The first reason is that my sister belongs to the LGBTQ community. I have recently found out about that and it made me care even more than I already did about this community’s rights. I believe most people have someone they care about that belongs to the LGBTQ community. It makes this issue a thing close to the hearts of all of us.

The second reason I care is the youth movement I was a part of. Being a part of “הנוער העובד והלומד” got me involved with the issues of the LGBTQ community in Israel, the motto of this youth movement is “ביתינו פתוח לכל נערה ונער”- our door is open for everyone, and equality is its first value. Through this youth movement I learned a lot about the LGBTQ community and about the injustice they are facing in many different aspects of life in Israel.

The laws represent the people in a democratic country, and in this case we can see the people of Israel don’t always treat those in the LGBTQ community the right way. Violent incidents towards members of the community aren’t as rare as they should be.

The most horrific case that comes to mind is the murder of Shira Banki, a sixteen year old girl that was stabbed and killed at the pride parade in Jerusalem 5 years ago by a homophobic ultra-orthodox man.

Hearing about this case shocked me (Alona), I was only 14 years old and I couldn’t believe a person could do that to an innocent girl in this colorful celebration of pride. How can a person turn celebration of diversity and freedom so quickly into a horrifying scene of hatred and fear? I realized she was the victim of something bigger, and I knew where I should stand in this battle of freedom.

Since this horrible event I make sure to go to the pride parade in Haifa every year. Most of my friends and family don’t understand why- I do not consider myself part of the LGBTQ community, it might look weird to some people and most importantly it could be dangerous. But I keep going because I feel obligated to take part of this fight for freedom, for pride. I enjoy joining my youth movement friends as we march for equal rights and see happy, free people celebrate who they are.

And occurrences like the order to change the surrogacy law show us a change can be done- a change is done- and if people will care enough a better future is waiting behind the corner.

Thank you very much and Shabbat shalom.