By Hilary White

JERUSALEM, December 18, 2007 ( – An Israeli religious opposition party has said it will work to block attempts to allow same-sex couples to adopt children on an equal footing with natural families. The Shas Party was reacting to moves by Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog to bring in a policy that would allow same-sex partners to adopt children legally.

Haaretz daily newspaper quoted Shas Chairman Eli Yishai saying, “This is a crazy idea.”

“It is part of a series of ideas by deluded parties whose sole goal is to blur the Jewish core of the Jewish people. This initiative contradicts the coalition agreements, and therefore, it will not be realized.”

Herzog told Haaretz on Sunday that the government must allow “single-sex couples who fully meet the criteria of parents to join the queue for adoption”. This would move the homosexual movement’s goals one step forward in Israel where legal precedents thus far have only allowed same-sex partners to adopt the biological offspring of their partner,

Herzog said, “A modern world-view in which there are diverse legal structures, teaches that the state also has to adapt itself to these eventualities, and in a modern state there is no choice but to recognize this and examine whether these parents are able to raise children with love and affection, according to the accepted standard.”

Shas has 12 seats in the Knesset which gives it the third highest number of seats of any party. Shas joined the governing coalition after the last election and holds four cabinet posts. Its current leader, Eli Yishai, is Deputy Prime Minister. Yishai also holds the posts of Trade Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Labour & Social Welfare. Shas voters are mainly ultra-orthodox Jews.

Yishai said, “Permission for same-sex couples to adopt redefines what a family is among the Jewish people. This is a definition that contradicts Judaism and has not existed to date. It is a mortal blow to the status quo.”

Haaretz reports that “sources in the Welfare Ministry” say Herzog wants to use the momentum of some High Court decisions to advance homosexual partnerings to be treated as equal to natural families.

One such decision came last week as the High Court sternly ordered the Ministry of the Interior to accept two women who had been “married” under Californian law as both being the legal “mothers” of a child born in the US. Nicole Berner-Kadish had adopted Matan, the son of her partner Ruty Brener-Kadish in the US. The Interior Ministry had requested the Supreme Court rescind a previous ruling forcing the government to accept the adoption.  

Read related coverage:

Israeli Supreme Court Orders Government to Recognise Foreign Same-Sex Adoptions