Reuters Corrects on Gay Marriage in Israel

CAMERA has prompted correction of a Reuters article which incorrectly reported that gay marriage is illegal in Israel. The Aug. 8 article (“Homophobic political ads are legal, Israeli judge rules“) had erred:

Gay marriage is illegal in the country of 9 million, although weddings performed abroad are recognized.

(Photo by Ludovic Bertron/Wikimedia)

While the state does not recognize gay marriages performed in Israel, it is incorrect to describe such marriages as “illegal,” since the couple is not in violation of any Israeli law. There is no law against holding the ceremony in Israel, nor in maintaining marital life in the country. Ha-Aguda, a leading NGO which advocates for recognized same-sex marriage in the country, explains ( CAMERA’s translations and bracketed notes):

the State of Israel recognizes same sex couples as Yedu’im BeTzibur [lit. “known in public”, i.e. unregistered cohabitation in the form of common-law marriage]. Following a Supreme Court ruling, the State is now obligated to include couples who provide a recognized [i.e. foreign] marriage certificate in the Ministry of Interior’s registry. Another ruling forced the State to enable a divorce process to such couples” – Ha-Aguda, Association of LGBTQ Equality in Israel (link in Hebrew)

Notably, Ha-Aguda does not characterize same-sex marriages carried out in Israel as “illegal.”

Gay marriages, like all marriages involving Jewish citizens which are performed outside the Rabbinate (including intermarriages, non-Orthodox weddings, and even traditional weddings carried out by a rabbi not recognized by the Rabbinate) are not recognized by the state, but are not illegal.

A 2013 Reuters report included a more accurate description of unrecognized, heterosexual Israeli weddings carried out outside the rabbinate’s auspices (emphasis added:

 [Non-Orthodox] Weddings such as Sharon’s fall into a legal no man’s land. They are not against the law, but neither are they recognized as valid by the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for registering marital status on the national identity card every Israeli is required to carry.

In response to communication from CAMERA, Reuters acknowledged the error and corrected on Openlynews.com, a project of Thomson Reuters, and on the company’s parent site, news.trust.org. The corrected wording now accurately reports:

Gay marriages are not against the law, but neither are they legally recognised as valid in the country of 9 million, although weddings performed abroad are recognised.

In addition, the two sites also include a note prominently at the top of the articles alerting readers to the change.