Israel gets same-sex divorce before same-sex marriage

JERUSALEM Tue Dec 4, 2012 11:22pm IST

Participants attend the tenth annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem August 2, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Files

Participants attend the tenth annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem August 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/Files

Related Topics

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli court has awarded the country's first divorce to a gay couple, which experts called an ironic milestone since same-sex marriages cannot be legally conducted in the Jewish state.

A decision this week by a family court in the Tel Aviv area "determined that the marriage should be ended" between former Israeli lawmaker Uzi Even, 72, and his partner of 23 years, Amit Kama, 52, their lawyer, Judith Meisels, said on Tuesday.

Legal experts see the ruling as a precedent in the realm of gay rights in a country where conservative family traditions are strong and religious courts oversee ceremonies like marriages, divorces and burials.

While Israel's Interior Ministry still has the power to try and veto the decision, it would likely have to go court in order to do so, Meisels said.

A 2006 high court decision forced the same ministry, headed by an ultra-Orthodox cabinet member, to recognise same sex marriages performed abroad and ordered the government to list a gay couple wed in Canada as married.

Same sex marriages are performed in Israel, but they have no formal legal status.

"The irony is that while this is the beginning of a civil revolution, it's based on divorce rather than marriage," newly divorced Kama, a senior lecturer in communications in the Emek Yizrael College, told Reuters.

He and Even, both Israelis, married in Toronto in 2004, not long after Canada legalised same-sex marriage. They separated last year, Kama said.

It took months to finalise a divorce as they could not meet Canada's residency requirements to have their marriage dissolved there. At the same time in Israel, rabbinical courts in charge of overseeing such proceedings threw out the case, Kama said.

By winning a ruling from a civil court, Kama and Even may have also set a precedent for Israeli heterosexual couples, who until now have had to have rabbis steeped in ancient ritual handle their divorces, legal experts say.

"This is the first time in Israeli history a couple of Jews are obtaining a divorce issued by an authority other than a rabbinical court, and I think there is significant potential here for straight couples" to do so as well, said Zvi Triger, deputy dean of the Haim Striks law school near Tel Aviv.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Michael Roddy)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Ferguson Teen Shooting

REUTERS SHOWCASE

SAARC Summit

SAARC Summit

Modi gives Buddha a miss as SAARC leaders flock to Nepal.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

U.S. to leave more troops in Afghanistan than first planned - sources.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine reports new arrivals of Russian supplies for eastern rebels.  Full Article 

Nuclear Iran

Nuclear Iran

Extended Iran nuclear talks leave bomb investigation in limbo.  Full Article 

Ebola Crisis

Ebola Crisis

Sierra Leone Ebola burial workers dump bodies in pay protest.  Full Article 

FARC Rebels

FARC Rebels

Colombia's FARC free two soldiers in step to restart peace talks.  Full Article 

Tunisia Politics

Tunisia Politics

Tunisian secularist wins first presidential round, heads for run-off.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage