Twitter icon Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Confusing terms
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Death penalty

Same-sex marriage

Human rights
Gays in the military
Sex & gender
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news


Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage


Sponsored link.

Marriage restrictions in Israel:

Israel, along with many other countries, is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 23 of the Covenant declares that men and women have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage, and at its dissolution. However, Israel appears to have ignored its obligations under the Covenant.

Currently, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is the religious authority that regulates all Jewish marriages. There are similar authorities that regulate marriages of Christian, Muslim Druze couples or couples of nine other religious communities.

However, there are no provisions for:

bulletNon-religious, civil marriage ceremonies in the country.

bullet Jewish couples who are not from the Orthodox tradition.


Religious ceremonies by couples who are not a member of one of the other 14 recognized religious communities.

bulletMarriage by inter-faith couples.
bulletMarriage by same-sex couples.

Together, the couples who are unable to marry in Israel form the majority! Most leave the country, get married in a foreign land -- Cyprus is the most common -- return to Israel, and have their marriage registered. Alternately, they can get married by mail in Paraguay.

Since 1953, only Orthodox Jewish marriages performed in Israel and civil marriages performed outside of Israel can be legally recognized. And, of course, the state did not recognize same-sex marriages, no matter where performed 1

According to author Suraya Dadoo:

"The rules on marriage are enforced by Israel's small, but influential, Orthodox community. Drawing on Old Testament statutes, these rabbis argue that God recognizes only Jewish marriages conducted according to Orthodox tradition. With secular and liberal Jews now constituting the majority of the Israeli population, the situation has become increasingly problematic, as many reject Orthodox traditions, often because they believe it discriminates against women."

"According to halakhic law (Jewish law), a marriage can conventionally be terminated in two ways: the death of a spouse, or the issuing of a "get" (divorce). A husband can, in principle, refuse to give a get indefinitely, and the woman cannot remarry or have children. In addition, childless widows must obtain a ritual release from their deceased husband's brother (levirate marriage) in order to re-marry. According to [the Israel Religious Action Center] IRAC, those wanting a non-Orthodox religious ceremony simply have no choice in Israel." 2

Status of SSM by late 2004:

The Government had criticized a financial agreement between a gay couple to share responsibility in raising the child who one of the men had fathered. But on 2004-DEC-08, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz issued a statement saying that he was taking:

"... a different approach regarding recognition of same-sex couples compared to his predecessor, Eliyakim Rubinstein. [Mazuz wrote:] The attorney general's basic approach is that with regard to recognizing partnerships between members of the same sex, one must distinguish between financial and other practical arrangements, in which the tendency should be practical and flexible, in the spirit of the times and of changing circumstances; and issues involving the creation of a new statutory status requiring a more cautions approach which, in general, should be left to parliament to decide." 3

Early in 2004, a conflict surfaced over payment of a house purchase tax. Israeli law requires payment whenever a home ownership is transferred from one person to another. But the tax is waived if the ownership is transferred from one married or common-law partner to the other. A same-sex couple, Adir Steiner and Tzach Granit, lost a lawsuit when they went to court to protest their payment of the tax. They appealed, and the state declined to contest their lawsuit -- probably out of fear that it would generate a precedent and allow other same-sex couples freedom from the tax.

In still another case, one partner of a same-sex couple who had been together for nearly 40 years died. A Nazareth District Court decided that the surviving member could inherit the estate of their partner as long as it had not been willed to someone else.

In Jerusalem, both former Mayor Ehud Olmert and current Mayor Uri Lupolianski have attempted to prevent gay-positive events from being scheduled in their city. Jerusalem Open House, a homosexual advocacy center, attempted to sponsoring a worldwide GayPride event in Jerusalem during 2005-Summer. It was called WorldPride 2005. Lupolianski was opposed to the event. He allegedly fears that conservative social and religious groups would consider the event as a provocation and organize massive protests. 4 In an unprecedented show of unity by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians, joined with Jewish and Muslim groups to oppose the event. These groups have traditionally been on opposite sides of many conflicts. However, their mutual hatred of homosexuality overcame their mutual hostility and enabled them to cooperate  The event was not held. A similar event in 2006 was also cancelled for the same reason.

2006-NOV-21: Israeli court recognizes same-sex marriages performed outside the country:

Four Israeli same-sex couples were married in Toronto, ON, Canada in 2005-MAR. They were  followed for several days by Out TV, a Canadian gay-positive cable network. Their show, "I Now Pronounce You ...," which focuses on same-sex weddings in North America, was hosted by Canadian comedian Trevor Boris and was broadcast in 2005-AUG. 5 The couples then returned to Israel. They and one other same-sex couple who had married in Toronto in 2003 sought help from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). They wanted to obtain rights for themselves that are automatically granted to married opposite-sex couples. The Association initially petitioned the Israeli Population Registrar to have the marriages registered. The Registrar rejected the requests, stating that "marriages of this kind are not considered legally valid by the State of Israel and thus cannot be recorded into the registry as requested." The Association then appealed to the High Court of Justice -- Israel's Supreme Court -- stating that the Registrar's refusal sends:

"... a humiliating message that a a relationship comprised of two men or two women is not considered to be normative, and is also considered to be of such a low status as to render it unsuitable for the rules that apply to heterosexual couples." 6

Israel's chief justice, Aharon Barak, appointed an expanded panel to hear the case.

The High Court voted overwhelmingly in favor of requiring the state to give same-sex couples the same status as opposite-sex Israeli couples who marry outside the country. This includes tax benefits and the right to be considered in child adoption cases.

According to, a Roman Catholic group:

"In a decision sure to cause unrest in the Holy Land, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled today that homosexual 'marriages' 7 obtained in Canada must be registered by Israeli authorities.  The justices ruled 6-1 in the precedent-setting case launched by homosexual activist couples 8 who 'married' 7 in Toronto, Canada."

"Yitzhak Cohen the Shas Minister of Religious Affairs commented to Haaretz news service saying:

"... the High Court has sunken in the gates of defilement and has torn out the last mezuzah 9 from its doors. Marriage can only be held by the faith of Moses and Yisrael [the traditional Jewish marriage vows]. The dam that protected the Jewish state has been burst open under the auspices of the High Court, asking for an anti-Jewish deluge clad in black capes'." 10

2006-NOV-21: An Orthodox rabbi's response to the court decision:

According to

"... spoke with Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the Special Emissary to Israel for The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada and The Rabbinical Alliance of America, about the Israeli' High Court of Justice's ruling today that homosexual couples married abroad will be registered as married couples in Israel. ..."

"The internationally respected Rabbi warned, 'This is a direct threat to people around the world and especially the Americas.'  He explained, 'Certain elements of the Muslim international community have been waiting to be able to point fingers at the relationship between Israel and America to be able to state that America has exported the worst part of Western culture to Israel as a portal to this section of the world - the Middle East'."

" 'Consequently, I am fearful,' he continued, 'that at some point they will be able to defend their use of terrorism against American citizens throughout the world by saying that the ugly American has now exported their ugliness into the Middle East'. ..." 

"Rabbi Levin stressed the severity of the situation saying: 'There is something worse than taking an innocent person and exterminating them in this world, and that is when you take a person and exterminate him in this world and in the next world.  You do that by bringing him into licentious sin. That way you are killing him, as our Rabbis taught in the Talmud over two millennia ago, you kill the person in this world and in the next world by bringing him into licentious sin whether its adultery, or other perversion or homosexuality, sexual sin. That is worse than killing'. ..."

"Rabbi Levin told that he has been working with Christians and even Muslims on the issue in Israel.  'Because of the threat of worldwide homosexualization of the world," he said, "it is imperative that forces of faith across religious boundaries, that devout Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews and even Muslims, work together in as broad a coalition as possible to protect God's standards'."

"Rabbi Levin explained that the threat was coming not only from homosexual activists but from 'homosexualists, meaning people who are not necessarily homosexual but are pushing the agenda, because somehow it gives them a kosher stamp of approval to be involved in heterosexual misbehavior'."

" 'If people of faith are serious enough then there's a hope to stem the tide of immorality,' Rabbi Levin told  'But if we turn the other cheek to this evil, then we will all suffer worldwide.  Because as the holy land goes, so by extension, will other areas of the world go.  It will incur God's wrath'."

" 'Fight with every fiber of your being the spiritual holocaust,' he said, 'which is robbing the values of the Jewish people in Israel and of the Christian people worldwide'." 

"He concluded: 'The most effective way of showing an opposition to the historic holocaust is to stop the holocaust of the spirit which is being perpetrated by the militant homosexual agenda'." 11

2006-NOV-22: Negative reactions by politicians:

A number of members of the Knesset (MK) from two conservative religious parties commented negatively on the decision in favor of marriage equality:

According to

"MK Meir Porush with the United Torah Judaism called for the protest resignation of Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, the only High Court Judge to oppose the ruling. ..."

"MK Moshe Gafni, with the United Torah Judaism, said he will propose a private bill if it's possible to render the decision moot by legislature. "Barak is leaving us a farewell gift tantamount to a destruction of the family unit," Gafni said. "Any sane person is shocked by the ruling. Even Sodom and Gomorrah had court houses."

MK Rabbi Yitzchak Levy, with the National Union-National Religious Party, said, "The ruling has led the wide public in Israel to express its distrust with the High Court of Justice and what it represents."

MK Zevulun Orlev of the National Union-NRP said the ruling undermined the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and of generations of Jewish culture. "For those wanting the State of Israel as a Jewish state, today is a day of mourning." 13

2006-NOV-28: The future of same-sex marriage in Israel:

Newsweek reported:

"Analysts believe the [High Court of Justice,] ...often a trailblazer on liberal issues, will side with the petitioners. But Avraham Ravitz, a rabbi and member of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition, said Parliament would block gay-marriage advances through legislation. 'We have a coalition agreement that says when the court makes decisions against religious principles, Parliament will correct them,' he says." 12

2007-JAN-30: First same-sex marriage registered in Israel:

Avi and Binyamin Rose were married on 2006-JUN-28 in Toronto, Canada. The civil ceremony was preceded by a religious ceremony which was facilitated by Avi's father, an American rabbi. The couple immediately returned to Jerusalem.

Avi, an informal Jewish educator for the Young Judaea youth movement, said:

"We did the civil ceremony in the hopes that we would eventually be able to make legal what we felt inside. We wanted the government of Israel to recognize that we are a couple. It was no more of a statement than [coming from] a 'regular' couple, but we are both committed Zionists and are hopeful that our union will bring more progress on this issue. ... It was wonderful to get married at the city hall in Toronto, but it was far more important for the State of Israel to recognize us as a couple. ... The protests last year over the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem really spooked us, and many of our friends here chose to leave the city. But we are very committed to building our lives in Jerusalem and the Interior Ministry provided us with a very positive experience today."

Binyamin, a social worker and therapist who is currently studying at a Conservative yeshiva in Jerusalem, said the registration process at the Interior Ministry went smoothly:

"Once we had all the right documentation, the process was pretty positive. The clerks at the office were a little confused by our application but they made the necessary changes to the forms and they came through beautifully for us.  said Avi, adding that his father, a rabbi in the US, facilitated a religious Jewish ceremony for the couple prior to the civil one. "

Yoav Loeff, spokesman for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), said that he was pleased that the High Court's decision in 2006-NOV paved the way for other same sex couples to be recognized. However, he noted that discrimination against same-sex couples remains high. He said: "There is still discrimination in Israel, and not everyone can afford or wants to go to Canada to get married," He suggested that Canada is the preferred country for same-sex couples to marry because the country does not require either spouse to be a citizen of Canada.

Irit Rosenblum, director of the New Family organization, said the registration of a gay couple in the capital was especially significant following the violent debate over the gay pride parade in Jerusalem. 14


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Gideon Alon, "Knesset to Debate bill on Freedom of Religion," Israel Religious Action Center, 2001-JUN-11, at:
  2. Suraya Dadoo, "Love And Marriage In Israel," 2003-NOV-12, at:
  3. Julie Stahl, "Israel's Attorney General Gives Boost to Homosexual Couples," Cybercast News Service, 2004-DEC-09, at:
  4. Suraya Dadoo, "Love And Marriage In Israel," 2003-NOV-12, at:
  5. Beth Duff-Brown, "Four Gay Israeli Couples to Wed in Canada ; Will Take Demand for Recognition to Israeli Supreme Court," The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Jews, 2005-MAR-11, at:
  6. Mitch Potter, "Israel approves gay nuptials. 5 Toronto-wed couples win case," The Toronto Star, 2006-NOV-22 at:
  7. LifeSiteNews does not recognize that same-sex marriages are real marriages. In order to denigrate SSM, they enclose the word "marriage" in quotation marks whenever it refers to SSM. Other conservative Christians and Christian groups follow the same format.
  8. LifeSiteNews uses the term "activist" to refer to a couple seeking equal justice under law, if the couple is of the same sex.
  9. The Hebrew word "mezuzah" referred to above means a doorpost. It refers to a scroll with specific verses of the Torah written on it, placed inside a container, and attached to a doorpost outside of the home of a devout Jew.
  10. John-Henry Westen, "Israel Must Register Homosexual 'Marriages' Performed Abroad Rules High Court. Canada's Gay 'Marriage' Law Strikes Again,", 2006-NOV-21, at:
  11. John-Henry Westen, "Gay 'Marriage' in Israel: Worse than Holocaust - Will Cause Terrorism Warns Rabbi Levin,", 2006-NOV-21, at:
  12. "Israel: Holy Union?," Newsweek Periscope, 2005-NOV-28, at:
  13. Gudrun Schultz, "Israeli Political Leaders Raise Outcry Against Same-Sex 'Marriage' Decision," LifeSiteNews, 2006-NOV-22, at:
  14. Ruth Eglash, "Jerusalem registers its first gay couple," The Jerusalem Post, 2007-JAN-30, at:

Site navigation:
Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > here

Copyright © 2004 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-SEP
Latest update: 2013-APR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or to the same-sex marriage menu, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

Sponsored links: