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Ha'aretz "Court grants divorce to gay couple for first time in Israeli history"

Court grants divorce to gay couple for first time in Israeli history

Judge rejects state's arguments that only the rabbinical courts have the authority to dissolve marriage, instructs Interior Ministry to register the former lovers as divorced.

By Ilan Lior

An Israeli court has granted the divorce of a gay couple for the first time in the country's history, the separated couple was informed on Sunday.

Late last month the Ramat Gan Family Court approved the request of Uzi Even, a chemistry professor at Tel Aviv University, and Amit Kama, who teaches communications at Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, to order the Interior Ministry to register them as divorced.

"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 said.

"I am very happy that we may have made a breakthrough," he said, adding that the decision could affect not only other same-sex couples but also straight couples who got married in a civil ceremony abroad ¬ since Israel does not recognize civil marriages performed inside the country ¬ and now want the state to register them as divorced.

Judge Yehezkel Eliyue said he based his decision on the High Court of Justice's instruction to the state to register the marriages of five same-sex couples who had tied the knot in Canada.

"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," the court ruled. "This runs contrary to the rights and liberties of the individual; it goes against Basic Laws and the basic values of justice and equality."

Eliyue said in the Even-Kama case it was only natural that the court would make use of the authority it has been given to dissolve the marriage.

"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," he wrote.

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