The Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that same-sex couples must be permitted by law to have children via a surrogate.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the unanimous decision found that “the sweeping exclusion of a group,” in this case gay men, in the current surrogacy law on the books was a form of discrimination “that attributes inferior status to this group.”

It further stated that denying surrogacy rights to same-sex couples infringed upon constitutional rights to equality and parenthood, calling this “another severe and humiliating violation of human dignity based on gender or sexual orientation.”

The ruling gave the government a period of one year to amend the law accordingly. Should the government fail to do so, said the ruling, the court would itself take action.

The case was brought to the court by the organization Proud Fathers, which challenged a December 2018 decision by the government not to extend surrogacy rights to gay couples. The government took the decision due to the belief that legislation extending those rights would be impossible to pass in the Knesset.

Surrogacy in Israel is currently only available to male-female couples and single women in cases where the women are unable to have children. A Health Ministry surrogacy committee must first approve eligibility and then the agreement between the intended parents and the surrogate.

Israelis who do not receive approval, including same-sex couples, often seek surrogates abroad, which is not illegal under Israeli law.