01:23 GMT +312 December 2019
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    A general view taken shows buildings in the Israeli Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv

    Israel Starts Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages as Route to Citizenship

    © AFP 2019 / JACK GUEZ
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    Israeli citizens who have married non-Israeli same-sex partners will soon be able to seek citizenship for their spouses under the same guidelines as heterosexual couples.

    Gay marriage is legal in Israel, but, it must be performed by a religious court. None of the 15 religious courts in Israel permit gay marriage and they have yet to legalize civil marriages. The government does recognize certain aspects of marriages conducted abroad. However, married same-sex couples were previously forced to wait up to seven years to be granted “permanent residency,” instead of actual citizenship. 

    The decision came after a lawsuit was filed by the Gay Fathers Association on behalf of same-sex married couples. 

    On Tuesday, it was announced by the government’s chief legal adviser, Avichai Mandelblit, that applications will now be considered under the same terms as straight couples. He has ordered the Interior Ministry to streamline the process for gay couples so that they have the same waiting period as heterosexuals.

    “For married same-sex couples, this is an extraordinary achievement,” Iris Sheinfeld, a lawyer representing the association, said. “It was without a doubt unbearable to live here with tourist status, meaning that you were maintaining a work and family life without rights.” 

    While the association is thrilled with their big win, they maintain that same-sex couples are not out of the woods yet.

    “We still have work to do, but from a fundamental and practical standpoint, we are satisfied. In addition, this has a lot of influence on surrogacy abroad,” she added.

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    Tags:
    Citizenship, Gay Marriage, Same Sex Marriage, Gay Fathers Association, Avichai Mandelblit, Israel
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