Nitzan Horowitz, the first openly gay politician to be elected to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), is a man on a mission according to Pink News. The Leftist MP wants to introduce secular marriages for gay and straight couples as well as campaigning for help for LGBT people from neighboring Arab countries who risk death if returned home.
“If you solve the issues about separating religion from the state you can solve a lot of the issues relating to LGBT rights,” he separately told Zionist and LGBT groups in London.
De-facto (common law) relationships in Israel offer significant rights currently. If ones lives with their partner for just three months, it is enough under Israeli law to gain inheritance rights.
Mr Horowitz explained: “Israel is a messy legal system with personal law being determined by different religious courts. There are the Jewish courts, the Muslim courts and 13 different denominations of Christianity have their own religious courts. We inherited this system from the British, who in turn inherited it from the Ottoman Empire. What it means is that so many religious institutions have a say about how I can live my life, how the law applies to me, that there is no provision for secular personal law.
“So, a Jew can’t marry a Christian within Israel, nor can a Christian marry someone of no faith. And a Jewish man with the surname Cohen [in biblical times the name for a priest] cannot marry a divorced woman. They are all, like gay couples forced to marry outside of Israel. The state does recognise all of these marriages and gives the couples legal protection, but it is wrong that the ceremonies themselves, particularly civil ceremonies can’t be done inside Israel.”
Mr Horowitz also pointed out that the religious groups within Israel are united in their opposition to homosexuality.
“The first time the country’s three religious leaders; the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Catholic-Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the chief mufti of the Muslim congregation have ever got together in history was in their opposition of World Pride coming to Jerusalem,” he said. “They got together and sat on the same table because of their hatred of gays.”