Thomson Reuters Corrects: Gay Fathers Get Paternity Leave in Israel

CAMERA’s Israel office last week prompted correction of a Thomson Reuters Foundation article which erroneously reported that gay fathers do not receive paternity leave in Israel. The Sept. 5 article, Gay fathers receive less parental leave than other couples: study,” had erred: “Turkey and Israel offered gay couples no leave.” 

(Photo by Ludovic Bertron/Wikimedia)

In fact, gay fathers and mothers are eligible for paternity leave in Israel. According to the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers (CAMERA’s translation from the Hebrew):
One of the fathers, whether it is the biological or non-biological father, according to their choice, is entitled to paternity leave up to 26 weeks.
In the case of a single birth, 14 of the weeks are paid leave. In the case of twins, 17 weeks are paid. (In the event that the employee going on leave has worked at his current workplace for less than one year, he will be entitled to the paid weeks only, and will not have the option to continue without pay for up to 26 weeks.)
According to the Kol Zchut (“All Your Rights”) site, supported by the Ministries of Justice and Social Equality, and the Joint Distribution Committee, birth leave for same-sex couples is as follows:
    • Female couples – The mother is entitled to a maternity allowance if she went on maternity leave and is covered by National Insurance. Her spouse may share maternity leave with her in accordance with the requirements for paternity leave.
    • Male couples:
      • A paternity allowance is paid to the biological father who goes on paternity leave, as long as he is covered by National Insurance (and assuming the mother is not entitled to a maternity allowance). The allowance can be split between 2 men if the conditions for splitting between the spouses are met.
      • When a same-sex couple has twins through surrogacy abroad, only one of them is entitled to a maternity allowance, even if each spouse is a biological parent of one of the children. The couple can choose which one of them will receive the allowance and they can split it as long as they are not both receiving it at the same time.
    • For more information see Maternity Pay for Same-Sex Couples

In response to communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Thomson Reuters promptly corrected, removing the incorrect claim from the story. In addition, editors commendably appended the following note alerting readers to the change:

(This version of the story removes incorrect reference to Israel not granting parental leave to gay couples)

The Thomson Reuters article was about a study by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) which found that a minority of 33 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) grant gay fathers the same amount of leave as heterosexual new parents. Reuters reported:

First published in the Journal of Social Policy, the research found that gay male couples received the same number of weeks off as different-sex couples in just 12% of those nations.

Israel, therefore, stands among a distinct minority in granting equal parental leave for gay fathers. It is unclear whether the error originated in the study itself.

Sept. 10 Update: Error Originated in UCLA Study

CAMERA has located the full text of the UCLA study, and has found that it is the source of the error. The authors erred (page 9):

In contrast, of the 33 countries that provide paid leave to birth parents, same-sex male couples receive equal durations of parental leave as differentsex couples in only four (Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, and Sweden) countries (Figure 2). In the majority of countries (n = 29), same-sex male couples receive shorter durations of leave. In three of these 29 countries (Israel, Switzerland, and Turkey), same-sex male couples receive zero weeks of paid parental leave (Table 2). In Israel and Turkey, access to leave is restricted by paternity or shared parental leave policies that grant paid leave only to the spouse of a biological mother, thus limiting the duration a biological father who is not married to the mother can receive. In Switzerland, there is no national leave policy for fathers in same- or different-sex partnerships. Across countries, the duration of paid leave available to same-sex male couples ranges from zero weeks (in Israel, Switzerland, and Turkey) to 156 weeks in the Czech Republic

Th authors, with lead researcher Elizabeth Wong, apparently are conflating same-sex couples who have full custody of the child – they receive the full leave – versus gay fathers whose child is in the biological mother's custody. In the latter case, the same-sex couple does not have responsibility for caring for the child, and therefore they do not receive leave. The identical policy exists in Australia, which the authors hold up as the gold standard. In Australia, too, a  requirement for receiving leave is that the parent "have or will have responsibility for the care of a child."