By John Connolly

JERUSALEM, February 12, 2008 ( – In a move that has infuriated religious and conservative groups in Israel, Attorney General Meni Mazuz ruled on Sunday that gays and lesbians have the same rights and qualifications to adopt children that heterosexual couples do.

The decision marks a significant change in Israel’s law concerning adoption. In the past, homosexual couples were only allowed adoption if one wanted to adopt their partner’s biological child. Under the new ruling, announced by the Israeli justice ministry on behalf of Mazuz, homosexual couples have all the adoptive rights that a stable family has.

“It was decided there is no legal hindrance from approving same-sex couples, or one of the partners, to adopt an unrelated child who is not the child of either partner,” the Israeli justice ministry said in a statement.

“In accordance with the High Court ruling,” Mazuz wrote, “‘the well-being of the adopted child’ is a complex principle that includes many aspects, and one may not say a priori that because the couple is same-sex, it will be bad for the child to be adopted by it. Therefore, the question of the identity of the couple is only one of the relevant considerations that must be taken into account together with all the other relevant circumstances and considerations.”

“It isn’t natural to treat marriage this way, and it isn’t natural to raise children this way,” said Yakov Cohen, a member of the United Torah Judaism party. “If nature created that marriage is a father and a mother, then that’s how it should be.”

“The attorney-general completely missed the point,” said Avraham Ravitz, a former deputy minister of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry. “This is not an ideological question of whether or not a same-sex couple should be recognized before the law. Rather, this is a question of education. This is a question of what is best for the orphan child.”

“Two women cannot take the place of a normative mother and father. A woman cannot take the place of a father, and a child needs a father. In a normative family, a child has a better chance of growing up healthy. Don’t we want the next generation to build normative families? How will they learn to do it if they don’t have someone to learn from?”

Israeli law allows rulings on marriage and divorce to be made by Rabbinical authority, and the Jewish religious tradition does not condone homosexuality. Conservative legislators and religious leaders struggled through December to block the motion to allow gays the legal status to adopt. The legal precedent began a speedy erosion in December 2007 when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israel must recognize the legal status of adoptions by gays from foreign countries.

See previous LifeSiteNews,com coverage:

Israeli Family Court Rules Lesbians and IVF Children a Family

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

Israel Opposition Party to Block Move to Allow Adoption by Homosexual Couples