Halel and Roi are in love and want to fulfill their dream of starting a family.
Thing is, because they are gay men, it’s almost impossible for them to adopt in their native Israel. And surrogacy there is only available to married heterosexual couples. So Halel and Roi are crowdfunding so that they can go through the pricey surrogacy process in North America.
Their position is not unique — and highlights the conservative stance toward LGBTQ couples who want to be parents. In July, the state told the High Court of Justice that “it would not lift existing discriminatory practices for same-sex couples who want to adopt children in Israel,” according to Haaretz. The Association of Israeli Gay Fathers asked the court to change the policy, but to no avail.
This decision outraged many all over the world, including Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, spiritual leader of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a large LGBTQ synagogue in Manhattan. Kleinbaum told Haaretz:
It is impossible for the Israeli government to promote itself as a haven for LGBT people, while taking blatantly homophobic positions. I am alarmed and frustrated with the position of the Justice Ministry signaling out LGBT families and discriminating against them as a progressive Zionist, I hold Israel accountable to the highest standards of our Jewish tradition — providing full equality for all who were created in God’s image.
Technically, same-sex couples are “allowed” to adopt a child in Israel, but only if no heterosexual couple is willing to adopt the child first. Clearly, this is not a great rule and definitely discriminates. Between 2008 and 2016 in Israel, only three same-sex couples were able to adopt, while heterosexual couples completed 1,700 adoptions during that same time frame.
The Israeli Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry has stated that the policy doesn’t discriminate, it’s just “complicated.” This is all especially ironic considering Israel has been called the “gay capital of the Middle East,” and the city’s Pride Parade is usually attended by 100,000 people, including 5,000 tourists. And yet, a Social Services Ministry official told Haaretz that the state of Israel believes “that Israeli society still sees such families as abnormal and still doesn’t fully accept them.”
It is heartbreaking for born parents like Halel and Roi. Watch their fundraising video below: