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Israel's high court rejects plea for recognition of same-sex marriages

(Reuters/Amir Cohen)Revellers take part in a gay pride parade in Tel Aviv, Israel June 9, 2017.

The High Court of Justice in Israel has rejected a plea by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association to recognize same-sex marriages in the country.

On Thursday, the high court turned down the association's petition that demanded the law against same-sex marriage be declared unconstitutional. According to Haaretz, the court justices argued that Israel's practice of not recognizing same-sex marriages does not contravene the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty.

In Israel, civil courts usually deal with material disputes, criminal matters and penalties, while religious courts deal with "personal status" issues like marriages and divorce. Some wives, however, often initially file their divorce cases in civil courts because whichever court first gets the case would determine alimony and child support.

Since Palestine came under British rule in the 1920s, all marriages are under the jurisdiction of the couple's religious entity, not the government.

The strict constitutionalist justices argued that the court does not have the jurisdiction to legally recognize homosexual or any other marriages.

"In essence, the petitioners are asking the court to recognize same-sex marriage via court ruling, despite the fact that Israeli law does not recognize it," Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Neal Handel, and Anat Baron explained in their ruling, according to Life Site News.

The justices explained that any amendment pertaining to the Basic Law was the responsibility of the legislature, not the courts.

"Regarding the possibility of recognizing marriages which are not performed under religious auspices, including same-sex marriage, there already is a ruling that such recognition is the purview of the legislative body," the justices stated.

Rubinstein further noted that the Basic Law was intended at protecting "the right of rabbinical courts to rule," among other things.

Homosexual activist Chen Arieli expressed disappointment with the decision and contended that giving jurisdiction to the legislature will politicize the issue.

During the first hearing of the petition in January, the judges expressed empathy for the LGBT couples, but they also noted at the time that the issue should be handled by the legislature, not the courts.

The chairwoman of the liberal Meretz political party, Zehava Gal-On, called on the legislature to legalize same-sex marriage.

"LGBT couples have the right to get married just like anyone else. This outrageous discrimination against them is a disgrace for a democratic state," she said.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid vowed that he would vote in favor of gay marriages. "A father and father and a mother and mother are families. We don't want to live in darkness," he said.

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