Israel grants first divorce to gay married couple

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

For the first time, an Israeli court has granted the divorce of a gay couple, a move that may have widespread ramifications across the country.

Same-sex marriages are recognised in Israel, but must be conducted overseas as only the religious authorities: Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Druze can perform marriages, and none offer gay couples the chance to marry. Like mixed faith straight couples, gay couples must marry in another country such as Canada, but once they do, they are recognised as a married couple in the Jewish state.

Last month, the Ramat Gan Family Court approved the request of Uzi Even, a chemistry professor at Amit Kama, a communications lecturer to order the Interior Ministry to register them as divorced.

“From my point of view, even if the state appeals and we have to keep going down this road, the verdict shows the beginning of the undermining of the rabbinate,” Professor Kama told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“I am very happy that we may have made a breakthrough,” he said. He told the newspaper that he believed the devision could now affect straight couples who are in civil marriages recognised within Israel but performed outside of the country.

Judge Yehezkel Eliyue said that as the High Court of Justice had already ruled that same-sex couples who married in Canada must have their marriages recognised by the state, the state should also recognise the end of the marriage.

“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,” he ruled. “This runs contrary to the rights and liberties of the individual; it goes against Basic Laws and the basic values of justice and equality.”

In May, the Israeli Parliament voted against introducing civil marriage for gay and straight couples.

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