JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Knesset has rejected a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to have children by surrogacy.
The bill to extend surrogacy to single men and same-sex parents was defeated Wednesday during a preliminary reading in a 49-41 vote.
In July, the Knesset passed a surrogacy law that expanded eligibility to single women. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted against an amendment to include same-sex couples and men, saying it was out of fear that a vote in support would bring down the government. Netanyahu said he would support such an amendment in the future.
“I support surrogacy for the LGBT community, but up until this moment, we don’t have a majority in the coalition to pass the law,” Netanyahu said Wednesday. “When we have a majority, we’ll pass the legislation.”
Four coalition members voted for the legislation: the Likud’s Amir Ohana, who is gay, and Sharren Haskel, head of the LGBT Knesset caucus, and Kulanu’s Merav Ben-Ari and Tali Ploskov.
Zionist Union lawmaker Itzik Shmuli, who is gay, on the Knesset floor called on Netanyahu to “look me in the eye” and “tell me how is it that Yigal Amir can [be a parent] and I can’t?” Amir assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995.
Netanyahu was obligated to attend the Knesset debate after 40 lawmakers signed a petition calling on him to be there.
Under the current surrogacy law, a family may have five children by surrogacy instead of the two now allowed, and a surrogate can give birth five times, including her own children, and up to age 39.
Same-sex male couples often hire surrogates in other countries to carry their babies. The government must grant citizenship to the babies when they are brought into the country.