Israel extends Law of Return to non-Jewish same-sex spouses

Interior Minister Gideon Saar on Aug. 12 instructed the government to extend the immigration benefits of the Law of Return to all married couples, including non-Jewish spouses in same-sex marriages.

The law affords non-Jewish spouses of Jewish immigrants full citizenship and immigration benefits. While Israel did extend those privileges to same-sex spouses, it also did not explicitly prohibit them.

“The Law of Return deals with the ingathering of all members of the Jewish people,” Saar wrote to his ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, according to the daily Haaretz. “In this regard, I see no reason to distinguish between Jews married in heterosexual marriages and Jews legally married abroad to a same-sex spouse. Both are Jews in terms of the Law of Return.”

Israel does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in the country, but does recognize such marriages performed abroad. — jta