An Israeli court has approved the nation's first same-sex divorce even though the country does not officially recognize same-sex marriage. The court ruled Sunday that the couple, who were married in Canada and live in Israel, should be recognized as married and should be allowed to sever the relationship [Jerusalem Post report]. Not allowing the separation, the court reasoned, would violate the couple's fundamental rights. The court also decided when the rabbinical courts, which have jurisdiction over divorce hearings, fail to hear an issue, the court may have jurisdiction to rule on the issue. Here, the court recognized that the rabbinical courts should not be expected to rule on same-sex divorces and thus claimed jurisdiction.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder], and recently same-sex divorce, remains a controversial issue both in the US and around the globe. In November Nigeria approved [JURIST report] a bill that criminalizes same-sex marriage. That same month, Malawi changed position [JURIST report] on suspending its anti-homosexuality laws. Also in November, voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington [JURIST reports] legalized same-sex marriage. In the same election Minnesota voters struck down a ballot initiative that would have outlawed same-sex marriage in the state. In May, a Maryland high court approved [JURIST report] a same-sex divorce.