First Gay Divorce Granted in Israel
Israel family court decision sets important precadent
While the couple, Uzi Even and Amit Kama, were married in Canada in 2004, divorce in the Great White north was not an option as that 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 ignored several requests made by the one-time couple, their requests were denied, until 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.
“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,” Judge Yehezkel Eliyue, who cited the 2006 case, told the Gay Star News. “ 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.”
The case is an important precedent for Israeli couples looking for a divorce, both gay and straight, who were married outside of Israel.
“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.”