Marriages in Israel are conducted only according to the religious rules. None of the religious bodies in Israel recognize gay marriage, thus same-sex couples cannot marry in Israel.
However, a same-sex couple who married in a country that does recognize gay marriage can be registered as married with the Israeli Misrad Hapnim.
In order to register, the couple must bring their civil marriage agreement, with the appropriate authentication (apostille), to their local office of Misrad Hapnim.
Important to know:
Being registered as married is NOT equal to being legally married in Israel and DOES NOT necessarily make you eligible for all the rights of a heterosexual married couple. For example, the right to a surrogate pregnancy, automatic recognition of the parenting of the non-biological parent, etc.
It does, however, make you eligible for other rights, including: tax credits, Bituach Leumi allowances, the right to appear in front of family court, etc.
A person whose current sex does not match their listed sex in the Population Registry, can apply for a sex change at Misrad Hapnim (no fees for this process). The required documents differ per situation.
Everyone must bring:
2 current passport pictures
If a name change is also requested – application form
Documents to bring according to circumstances:
If the person underwent sex change surgery, they must bring medical documentation as proof.
If the person underwent a sex change without surgery, they must bring medical documentation as proof.
If the person’s actual sex does not match their sex listed in the official registration, they must bring legal document as proof.
Same-sex couples can adopt kids in Israel. The process is regulated by the Ministry of Social Affairs. See more here.
Adoption options in Israel:
“Regular” adoption: In this scenario, a same-sex couple applies for adoption as a family unit. The fact that they are a same-sex couple will not be held against them in the discussion/decision. The child’s welfare will be the first and only priority.
One spouse adopts the other spouse’s children. There are a few legal precedents in Israel in which the non-biological parent adopted the children of their partner, the biological parent, and became their full legal parent in the eyes of the law. These cases are complicated but the bottom line is that the child’s welfare will be the first and only priority. The question will not be whether the child should be raised in a LGBTQ family but rather, is it in the child’s best interest and welfare to be adopted by their biological parent’s spouse or not (taking into consideration that they are already living in an LGBTQ family). It should be noted there were a few cases where the family court recognized the parenthood of the non-biological parent, even without a full adoption.
Adoption from overseas. In this scenario, the parent who legally adopts a child overseas registers with the Israeli Misrad Hapnim as the child’s adopting parent. The person’s sexual orientation and the nature of their relationship with their partner is irrelevant to the case.
Guardianship (אפוטרופסות). This option involves a same-sex couple who hold a common house hold – the non-biological parent can be assigned as a guardian by the family court. The fact that they are a same-sex couple will not be held against them in the decision. The child’s welfare will be the first and only priority.
Parental recognition for a biological child of a same-sex spouse without the need for a full adoption. This process can be done only at a family court in Israel and it’s highly recommended to use an experienced legal counselor. This option is relevant for:
Male couples who use a surrogate mother overseas and both of their names are on the child’s birth certificate.
Female couples who used a sperm donor to conceive the child.
Cases where the child was born into an existing relationship.
Both partners are at least 21 years old.
The partners are living, and have been living, in a joint household for at least 18 months.
Both partners are Israeli residents.
No criminal record of violence or sex crimes.
File a request at the court as soon as possible after the birth and no later than 6 months post-birth.
The court may request a report from the office of social affairs.
In cases of overseas surrogacy, the court will most likely request a genetic blood test to prove the biological connection.
Same-sex couples are entitled to the birth grant (from Bituach Leumi) like any other couple.
In cases of twins who were born in an overseas surrogacy process, the couple will receive only one grant, even if each of them is the biological parent of one of the twins. The couple will have to decide which person receives the grant.
Same-sex couples are entitled to get a paid maternity leave.
For women, the spouse who gave birth can take paid maternity leave and her partner can share it with her, like any heterosexual couple.
For men, the biological parent is entitled to take paid leave if he meets the criteria.
*In cases of twins who were born in an overseas surrogacy process, only one spouse is entitled to receive the paid maternity leave, even if each of them is a biological parent of one of the twins. They will have to decide which one gets it and will also have the option to rotate as long as there is no overlap between them both.
*In case of triplets or more, please consult with Bituach Leumi for an additional available grant (Kitzvat Leida, birth allowance).
Day cares recognized by the government are subsidized (based on income level). Same-sex couples who run a joint household are entitled to this subsidy. Olim Chadashim may be entitled to the benefit regardless of their income.
Same-sex couples will not receive their Teudot Zehut at Ben Gurion Airport if they make Aliyah on a designated flight – only at their local office of Misrad Hapnim. Same-sex couples who make Aliyah on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group or charter flight should get their Teudot Zehut at the airport, but it is recommended to confirm this with your Aliyah advisor before booking a flight.
It is critical to bring all medical and legal documentation about a sex-change, in order to ensure the registration goes smoothly.
Same-sex couples will not automatically receive rental assistance. They must go to a rental assistance company.
The income level of the parents in a same-sex couple will not be evaluated on the same terms as the spouses in a heterosexual couple, when determining the eligibility of the family for the child care subsidy. Therefore, the parents will need to decide which parent’s income will be assessed as the “main parenting figure,” and which will be the “other” parent. This decision is irreversible.
In a heterosexual couple, if the wife (and only the wife) is a homemaker, she is covered by her husband’s Bituch Leumi payments.
Both partners must go to their local office of Bituach Leumi to declare which of them is the homemaker.
This is irreversible!
From the perspective of Bituach Leumi, female same-sex couples are spouses to the full extent of the law and are eligible for all spousal benefits, including a special death grant if one spouse passes away.
Both partners are required to pay. There are no exemptions.
Gadi Last is licensed in Israel as an Investment, Insurance and Pensions Broker, and has over 15 years’ worth of experience in assisting people with their financial and investment needs in Israel and overseas. His work focuses on helping English-speaking Olim make effective and efficient decisions when it comes to their (insurance,) pensions and investments, and specializes on helping US-citizens to save and invest in Israel