In Israel, family law is administered by religious authorities acting as government agencies. For Jewish Israelis, these authorities include the Chief Rabbinate headed by the two Chief Rabbis (Ashkenazi and Sephardi) and a network of rabbinical courts, which are separate and distinct from the secular court system.
The rabbinical court in the coastal city of Netanya was rather surprised recently, when an observant Jew petitioned it for an expedited divorce from his wife of many years with whom he had had several children. Asked to elaborate, the gentleman offered that he had just recently come out of the proverbial closet and declared himself openly gay. Furthermore, he explained that he already has a male fiance, an Italian citizen who resides in Italy and that he is planning to emigrate from Israel, marry his Italian lover and remain there. To cap it all off, the petitioner reiterated his concern that should he fail to reunite with his betrothed “very soon”, the latter may call the whole thing off.
His wife, he elaborated further, was a deeply devoted and religious woman and should he leave her without a formal rabbinical writ of divorce known as a “get”, she would never be able to remarry. The rabbis serving as the judges in the court, rather than dwell on Judaism’s sweeping prohibition of male homosexuality, considering it in fact a mortal sin, chose to focus on the practical matter of the wife and mother and how her unhappiness can only be multiplied should she find herself in the status of an “agunah”, literally “anchored”, without the possibility of ever finding happiness with another man within the framework of Jewish matrimony. With that in mind, the petitioner’s appeal for an immediate divorce was granted.
This report was first printed in the Hebrew edition of Ynet.