How is gay marriage viewed in Israel

Survey findings published the day before Friday’s Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade showed that an all-time high of 79 percent of Israelis support same-sex marriage or civil unions.

The poll commissioned by the Hiddush organization for religious pluralism reflected a consistent rise in public backing “for the official establishment of state-recognized same-sex partnerships in Israel,” Hiddush wrote in a press release accompanying the results.

Respondents were asked, “do you think same-sex couples should be permitted to marry or have civil unions in Israel? (A civil union is not a marriage, but it grants similar rights and responsibilities).”

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The results indicated a three-point bump in support as compared to the 2016 findings. It also marked a significant rise from the 64% who supported the measure in 2015. In 2009, only a slim majority of Jewish Israelis said “yes” to the question on a Hiddush-commissioned poll.

The annual gay pride parade in central Jerusalem on July 21, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In Israel, though same-sex marriage is not technically illegal, there is no institution authorized to carry it out. In a system inherited from Ottoman times, people can only marry in Israel through their religious institutions: Jewish couples must marry through the Chief Rabbinate, which refuses to carry out same sex marriages, and Christians, Druze and Muslims all marry through their own state-sanctioned and publicly funded religious legal systems.

When divided by political party affiliation, 84% of Likud voters indicated support for either gay marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.

Among the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party, 65% supported either or both.

Several Jewish Home lawmakers have made statements disparaging the LGBT community in the past.

MK Bezalel Smotrich labeled himself in 2015 a “proud homophobe” and earlier referred to the Pride Parade as a “Beast Parade.”

Other lawmakers have also made remarks against the LGBT community.

Parties whose voters were most supportive of gay marriage and civil unions were the center-left Zionist Union and left-wing Meretz at 100% each.

“The gap between the public will and the government’s policies is growing,” Hiddush CEO Uri Regev said. “These findings give us hope and pride that the necessary change will come.”