Reversal for gay marriage rights in Israel

Wednesday, October 06, 2010 |  Ryan Jones

Israel was among the first countries in the world, and definitely the first in the Middle East, to legally recognize long-term homosexual relationships as being equal to common law marriages.

In 2007, Israel followed that up by officially recognizing same-sex marriages performed abroad. Gay marriages can still not be performed legally in Israel, but homosexual Israelis are now free to fly to Europe, get married and enjoy the full range of legal rights afforded to married couples in Israel.

But the movement suffered a setback on Tuesday when a family court judge in Beersheva ruled that the common law partner of a deceased local academic figure was not entitled to his inheritance.

The legal battle was joined by the deceased man’s sister, to whom all of his possessions were left in his will. But the man’s homosexual partner of more than 20 years claimed that by virtue of their common law marriage, he was entitled to take possession of the deceased’s estate.

Judge Yeshayahu Tischler declared that in his court, “man and wife” can mean only one thing. “In my opinion, the only legitimate interoperation for this term is male and female,” Israel’s Ynet news portal quoted the judge as saying.

Tischler went on to note that “regardless of the public’s tolerance of same-sex couples… any other interpretation seems forced to me, even if it is meant to serve social values of liberalism.”

The plaintiff said he would be appealing Tischler’s ruling to a higher court since he claimed it went against the Supreme Court’s rulings in support of legal rights for homosexual couples.

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