Israel gets same-sex divorce before same-sex marriage
An Israeli court has awarded the country's first divorce to a gay couple, which experts called an ironic milestone since same-sex marriages cannot be legally conducted in the Jewish state. A decision this week by a family court in the Tel Aviv area "determined that the marriage should be ended" between former Israeli lawmaker Uzi Even, 72, and his partner of 23 years, Amit Kama, 52, their lawyer, Judith Meisels, said on Tuesday.
Legal experts see the ruling as a precedent in the realm of gay rights in a country where conservative family traditions are strong and religious courts oversee ceremonies like marriages, divorces and burials. While Israel's Interior Ministry still has the power to try and veto the decision, it would likely have to go court in order to do so, Meisels said. A 2006 high court decision forced the same ministry, headed by an ultra-Orthodox cabinet member, to recognize same sex marriages performed abroad and ordered the government to list a gay couple wed in Canada as married.
The couple, both Israelis, married in Toronto in 2004, not long after Canada legalized same-sex marriage. They separated last year. It took months to finalize a divorce as they could not meet Canada's residency requirements to have their marriage dissolved there. At the same time in Israel, rabbinical courts in charge of overseeing such proceedings threw out the case.