Israel's Knesset last week slapped down an attempt by same-sex couples to get themselves included in an amendment to the state's surrogacy laws.
The amended surrogacy bill will enable Israeli families to have up to five children through surrogates, up from just two, and will also permit a surrogate to give birth five times, including her own children.
The biggest change is that the new bill also covers single mothers, while previously only married women could obtain approval for a surrogate birth. Homosexual couples had hoped to also add a clause enabling them to have children here at home via a surrogate, rather than pay exorbitant prices to do so abroad.
But the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee voted down a proposed amendment to that effect submitted by Likud MK Amir Ohana, who is one of several openly gay Israeli lawmakers.
"When my husband and I wanted to raise a family, we had to travel thousands of kilometers to another country. The twins were born prematurely and we were not by their sides," an emotional Ohana told the committee. "I had to turn the world upside down to find a Jew, who did not know me but lived nearby, to be by their sides. I am not defying the rabbinate and going against religion, just asking for a bit of humanity."
Fellow gay lawmaker Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) called the committee's decision on the matter "an insult."
"I want to be a father and I cannot be a father. To do this, I have to go to a foreign country, pay $140,000 and hope it’s all right," he added. "We are good enough to serve the country, but not to be parents. It’s an insult I cannot describe. It is a situation that is simply discriminatory, painful, and full of insults and dishonesty. This is wrong."
While Israel touts itself as a safe haven for homosexuals, it has yet to legalize same-sex marriage. However, same-sex marriages executed abroad can be officially registered in Israel.
PHOTO: Israelis demonstrate in Tel Aviv against the failure to include homosexuals in new surrogacy regulations. The sign being held up reads "Father and Father." (Miriam Alster/Flash90)