Gay rights groups: Justice minister is setting us back 30 years

Gay rights activists yesterday fiercely criticized Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann for bowing to pressure by religious parties in his decision to redraft inheritance laws. The revised bill would preclude homosexual couples from inheritance laws that apply to people in common-law marriages.

Please read —Leviticus 18:1-25 (click here for chapter 18) and see the progressive decay of a society that turns from it’s creator.
— ITD Editor –

“Since the beginning of his miserable term, the justice minister has been resolute to set Israel back 30 years,” said Mike Hamel, chairman of the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association. The bill proposed by Friedmann contradicts the recommendations of a public commission (headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel) that was set up in 1999. Its purpose was to reform the 1965 inheritance law. The commission proposed, in the spring of 2006, to alter the law’s definition of a couple from “husband and wife” so that it would apply to both gay and heterosexual couples.

The minister decided to limit the proposed inheritance law to “a man and a woman who lead a family life in a joint household.” The original bill, which the committee approved, proposed to regard all “partners who live together in a common household” as each other’s legal inheritors.

“It is disheartening to see that the justice minister, whose role is to promote equality before the law, is disenfranchising the gay community,” Hamel said. “We strongly condemn his decision to redraft inheritance laws, which will severely affect homosexual couples.” Friedmann decided to revise the bill, which already had been approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on July 22, after meeting with Minister Meshulam Nahari (Shas) last month. Representatives from the rabbinic court system also attended the meeting.

The Knesset plenum is expected to vote on a preliminary reading of the altered bill in November, after the legislators reconvenes for the winter session in October.

Dror Mizrahi, chairman of Our Colors, a gay rights youth group affiliated with Meretz, said: “This is an unenlightened alliance of unenlightened people. Minister Friedmann and Shas have joined hands to discredit the gay public of Israel. Friedmann has already declared war on democracy, and this is yet another phase in the battle he’s waging against Israel’s democratic character.” In November 2004, the Nazareth District Court ruled in a landmark case, allowing a male partner to inherit the apartment that he shared with the deceased and belonged to the late partner, even in the absence of a will. The judges ruled by a majority vote that the inheritance law of 1965 “did not refer to single-sex couples not because it sought to disenfranchise them, but because such a phenomenon did not exist at the time.”

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided not to petition the High Court to reverse the ruling, stating that in terms of property and financial matters, homosexual couples would enjoy the same status as heterosexual couples.

The Turkel committee assumed that the appellation “husband and wife,” in terms of family life, can be applied to gay couples as well. But this broad definition cannot be reinstated in the new law, voted upon today, when gay couples are ubiquitous. Moreover, the Nazareth District Court precedent is not binding.

A Justice Ministry spokesperson said, “The new inheritance law is part of the legal code and is transparent. It should be interpreted in the same way as its earlier version.”

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