F140220GM81-635x357Israel: Gay couples as well as single men and women in Israel wishing to obtain surrogacy services has been permitted by the Israeli Cabinet June 1, making way for the Keenest vote to approve it.

The legislation is set to be presented for a Knesset vote at a later date, and will likely pass into law, reports timesofisrael.com.

The proposed legislation is seen as a landmark law that further equality in Israel as it will grant the same benefits afforded to heterosexual couples and further extend surrogacy rights, allowing married women to serve as surrogate mothers.

While the age of eligible surrogate mothers would be raised from 36 to 38, the bill stipulates that individuals seeking surrogacy must be under the age of 54, and can only offer services for up to two children.

Health Minister Yael German hailed the decision as “longed-for equality in Israeli society.”

“This is a day of good tidings. The bill strikes a balance between the desire and the right of everyone to be a parent, and between the preservation of surrogacy and its rights.” said the minister who had paved the way for such legislation.

The surrogacy law is a significant process toward equality and openness, and from the moment it was presented by the health minister was seen as controversial and a political struggle that wasn’t simple.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation had approved the bill in March but was suspended after Housing Minister Uri Ariel had appealed against a law that would allow same-sex couples to undergo the surrogacy process in Israel instead of having to do so abroad.

The prime destination for foreign surrogacy used to be India until last year, when that country made it illegal to be a surrogate for same-sex couples. Thailand was another favored location, but a recently introduced Thai law under which babies are automatically granted citizenship according to the citizenship of their birth mothers complicated matters.

Israel suffers from a shortage of surrogate mothers. Between 2007 and 2012, the Walla news site reported, 313 Israelis found surrogate mothers abroad, compared to only 228 in Israel.

The imbalance has become even more pronounced recently: In 2012, 126 people went through the process abroad, while only 41 did so in Israel.

Source: timesofisrael.com