Israel extends Law of Return to non-Jewish same-sex spouses

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel extended immigration benefits to non-Jewish spouses in same-sex marriages.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Gideon Saar instructed the government to extend the benefits of the Law of Return to all married couples.

The law affords non-Jewish spouses of Jewish immigrants full citizenship and immigration benefits, but Israel had not extended the privileges to same-sex spouses while not explicitly prohibiting same-sex spouses from receiving them.

“The Law of Return deals with the ingathering of all members of the Jewish people,” Saar wrote to his ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, according to Haaretz. “In this regard, I see no reason to distinguish between Jews married in heterosexual marriages and Jews legally married abroad to a same-sex spouse. Both are Jews in terms of the Law of Return.”

Israel does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in the country, but does recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad.

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