3 in 4 Israelis back same-sex marriage, survey finds

(JTA) – Some 76 per cent of Israelis support some form of recognized same-sex civil marriage in Israel, up from 64 per cent a year ago, according to a new survey.

The survey of 500 participants was conducted last week amid festivities for Tel Aviv Pride Week, when the city celebrates its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population with help from thousands of tourists.

It was initiated by Hiddush, a nonprofit organization that advocates for religious pluralism in Israel, and conducted by the Smith Polling Institute.

Marriage in Israel is overseen by religious courts; there is no form of nonreligious civil marriage.

The survey asked: “In your opinion, should civil marriage/civil partnerships be available for same-sex couples?”

Broken down by religious affiliation, the poll found that 90 per cent of secular Israelis support civil marriage for same-sex couples, compared with 77 per cent of traditional Jews, 46 per cent of national religious Jews, and 16 per cent of haredi Orthodox.

Seen through a political lens, the survey found that 90 per cent of those affiliated with the centrist Kulanu party backed same-sex unions, compared to 80 per cent of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, 74 per cent of Likud voters and 57 per cent of Jewish Home voters.

The vast majority of haredi Orthodox voters opposed same-sex marriage, while nearly all of the voters surveyed from centrist or left-wing parties in the opposition backed it.

Of those that approved of civil unions, 80 per cent said they believed same-sex couples should receive the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex couples. But Hiddush director Rabbi Uri Regev warned that public enthusiasm does not replace legal guarantees.

“The survey results are a source of pride and a badge of honor for the Israeli public during Pride Month, but the political and legal reality in Israel is shameful,” he said, according to the Times of Israel. “Israel not only denies same-sex couples the right to marry, against the clear public will, but also denies hundreds of thousands of heterosexual couples the right to family because it granted exclusive monopoly over Jewish marriages to the Orthodox Rabbinate.”

In 2009, slightly more than half the respondents backed same-sex unions in a similar survey.


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