Israeli Court Grants Gay Divorce For First Time In Country’s History

An Israeli family court has approved the request of Uzi Even and Amit Kama to order Israel’s Ministry of Interior to grant them a divorce.

The former couple married in Canada eight years ago where marriage is open to anyone but divorce is reserved strictly for Canadians. In 2006, a case filed by five male Israeli couples led the Supreme Court to order the government to recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad. Therefore, Even and Kama had to pursue a divorce in Israel, where marriage and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts.

After the Jewish court repeatedly ignored their requests, they made an appeal to the family court in the city of Ramat Gan against Israel’s Ministry of Interior, which claimed the rabbinical court was not given enough time. The judge rejected the state’s arguments that only the rabbinical courts have the authority to dissolve marriage, instructing Israel’s Ministry of Interior to grant Even and Kama a divorce.

Judge Yehezkel Eliyue cited the landmark 2006 case, and according to Gay Star News, ruled:

“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. This runs contrary to the rights and liberties of the individual; it goes against Basic Laws and the basic values of justice and equality…Under these circumstances the rabbinic court lacks the authority to hear the petition, and in any case is not the proper forum to discuss it.”

This case sets a legal precedent for Israeli couples, gay and straight, married abroad that may seek a divorce.

“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,” Kama told the daily, Ha’aretz. “I am very happy that we may have made a breakthrough.”

Photo: David Baker/Ha’aretz

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