Metro Weekly

Israel retroactively removed non-biological lesbian parents from birth certificates

An Israeli couple learned while trying to get travel visas that their names had been removed from their children's birth certificates

Photo: Can Pac Swire / Flickr

An Israeli lesbian couple was stunned to learn that the country’s Interior Ministry has retroactively changed their children’s birth certificates to remove the non-biological mother.

Irit and Einat Zvieli-Efrat, who have four children, were attempting to get their children visas from Nepal to India when the clerk asked for the children’s birth certificates.

When they went to the Israeli Embassy in Kathmandu to get copies, they were surprised to find that the birth certificate they had did not match those on file with the Interior Ministry — on each, the non-biological mother had been removed, Haaretz reports.

“We were in shock,” Irit said to Haaretz. “In addition to the aggravation, there was also a lot of unpleasantness. The Indian Embassy accused us of providing false information because we claimed that the children had two mothers and that the State of Israel recognizes us, and when we came with birth certificates, only one mother appeared. In the end, we obtained visas as single mothers. It’s a bad situation because it’s just not our reality.”

Irit and Einat’s birth certificates were part of several dozen on which Israel allowed non-biological parents to be recognized between 2006 and 2007. Now, the state claims the additions were made in error.

Raz Nizri, deputy Knesset legal adviser, said in parliament that: “The birth certificates in question were produced manually for a short period of time, contrary to the general policy of the Population Authority and not in accordance with the Population Registry regulations.”

The process of allowing both parents on certificates apparently ended after the former head of archives, George Klein, retired and was replaced by Meir Amsalem, who has had numerous LGBTQ parents file complaints against him for delays in arranging registration, as required by court order.

Regardless of what brought the change, attorney Daniela Yaakobi, representing parents petitioning the High Court of Justice, said that the parents should not have found out about this change on their own.

“The state’s contention that the documents with the two mothers were mistakenly issued was only raised because we petitioned the High Court of Justice,” she said. “If there was a mistake, then how is it that for 12 years none of the women was told that she was in possession of an erroneous birth certificate?”

The Interior Ministry responded: “Birth certificates are issued in accordance with the Population Registry regulations. Birth certificates are not amended after adoption orders and court-issued parenting orders (whether we are talking about heterosexual couples or same-sex couples). Mr. Amsalem issues birth certifications in accordance with the regulations and the policy of the [Population] Authority as regards registration of birth certificates.”

Supporters have argued that the birth certificate is only meant as a biological marker, and does not need to reflect the family status.

However, many have opposed this, saying that if a heterosexual couple had a man with fertility problems, no one would question putting him down as the father, even if there is no genetic connection.

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