Israel Officials Likely to Veto Extending Tax Benefits to Include Same-Sex Couples
December 3, 2013 by Limor Finkel, Global Engagement Program Coordinator
Last week in Jerusalem, Israeli ministers proposed to extend the same tax breaks to same-sex couples as their heterosexual counterparts are afforded. Bayit Yehudi, an Orthodox and right-wing political party of Israel, stated yesterday that they will veto any bill that allows same-sex couples to claim this credit.
Adi Kol of the Yesh Atid, a centrist party, proposed the bill last week and it was quickly approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Shortly after moving through committee, chairwoman of the right-wing party, Ayelet Shaked, sent a letter on behalf of her party stating that “this bill is meant to undermine the public discourse about civil marriage, which must be undertaken seriously…Such changes will have serious ramifications on Israeli society and the country’s character.”
The letter was sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, coalition chairman Yariv Levin, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, and several coalition faction chairmen and stressed that the bill would undermine the “religious status quo” and could lead to a “silent revolution” in Israeli society.
The Israeli government is made up of a coalition of several political parties, which includes the right-wing Bayit Yehudi, centrist Yesh Atid, the centre-right Likud party, and a center-left party, Hatnuah. In a coalition system of governing, any one of these four parties can choose to veto a proposed bill.
The Israeli National LGBT Task Force responded to Bayit Yehidi’s veto, stating “with all due respect to the Bayit Yehudi’s ayatollahs, the Israeli tax system is not connected to religion, country of origin, gender or sexual orientation, nor does it have anything to do with the rabbinate or religious services.”
They also accused the right-wing party of acting with other religious parties, who have prevented many other anti-discrimination laws for LGBT to pass through the Israeli parliament.
Roi Mor and Eran Sikurel, an Israeli gay couple with a child, demanded that they and other same-sex parents receive the same tax breaks as heterosexual couples. The bill was proposed after they were denied these same rights. “This is about our son’s right to an equal starting point,” stated Sikurel.
While same-sex marriages cannot legally be performed in Israel, the government does recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who have been married in countries where it is legal. According to a 2011 poll, 61% of Israelis believe lesbians and gay men should have the right to marry.