GUADALAJARA – President Shimon Peres expressed unequivocal support for same-sex marriage during a state visit to Mexico.
In an interview with Ynet on Sunday while in Mexico's Guadalajara, Peres said that "even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights. We have no power to take away (their) rights."
Peres added: "We cannot take away someone's rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them."
Peres' comments came in response to a new bill being promoted by the Justice Ministry called 'Living together' which attempts to regulate some form of a civil partnership between same-sex couples.
The government is not scheduled to vote on the bill any time soon, but a memorandum signed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in its favor is being circled around.
On Sunday morning the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs authorized a new bill which attempts to mend the Income Tax Act and grant same-sex couples with children the same tax exemptions enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.
"We are talking about tens of thousands of shekels given to the parents of children under 18, sums which were prevented from same-sex parents," said MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) who proposed the bill.
An additional bill, being promoted by MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) and which attempt to secure equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, failed to make it through the committee a few weeks ago.
Yesh Atid filed a party-supported initiative to regulate same-sex as well as civil (as opposed to religiously ordained) marriage in Israel. The gist of the bill was an attempt to form a civilian version of the rabbinate which would offer state-sanctioned civilian marriage services.
The bill is expected to be voted on in the committee and – if it should pass – could move onto the Knesset for an additional round of votes.
However, it is safe to assume that even within the coalition there will be those opposed to the proposal – namely the Habayit Hayehudi who view the idea as an attempt to circumnavigate the rabbinate.
As the Knesset's summer plenum began, Finance Minister Yair Lapid reiterated his commitment to the fight for same-sex marriage.
In reality, there are little to no differences between Livni's and Lapid's bill, and now it is only a fight over who will take the credit for the move. It remains unclear whether the two are considering merging their respective proposals.