Israel Supreme Court Legalizes Surrogacy for Gay Men

The government of Israel must end its ban on surrogacy for gay men and single men within six months, the nation’s top court ruled on July 11. The ruling follows a years-long campaign by LGBTQ and reproductive rights activists to give Israeli same-sex couples and single people the equal rights to parent and build families in Israel.

In the decision, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut wrote that Israel must expand existing laws so that “the expression ‘intended parents,’ which appears in the law on [surrogacy] agreements, can be interpreted to refer to heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, single women and single men”; and so that the “recipient” of the egg can be interpreted as either a male or female recipient, as reported by Haaretz.

‘Gay-Friendly’ Israeli Policies Fall Short of Reproductive Equality

Because marriage in Israel is considered a religious institution rather than a civil one, many people are restricted from marrying, including people of different faiths. As we wrote in July 2018, “[w]hile the LGBT civil rights movement in the U.S. and much of the world focused in recent years on legalizing same-sex marriage, in Israel the push has been for equal parentage rights for LGBT people.”

Israel initially banned surrogacy in 1988. In 1995 an Israeli couple, who could not conceive due to the wife’s cervical cancer, successfully challenged the ban, leading to the formation of a commission to study the issue. The commission’s official report recommended that surrogacy be legalized. A short time later, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the surrogacy ban, forcing the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, to enact a new law.

The new law allowed surrogacy in Israel, but only under tight restrictions: the surrogate must be unmarried, unrelated to either intended parent and of the same religious faith. Use of donor eggs or sperm was prohibited. And surrogacy was available only to married couples—completely excluding single or LGBTQ intended parents.

In 2010, a male same-sex couple petitioned the court to overturn restrictions preventing them from using surrogacy to create a family, The Washington Post reports, but were unsuccessful. In 2015, supported by LGBTQ advocacy groups, they petitioned again.

In July 2018, the Knesset passed a new surrogacy law that extended eligibility for surrogacy to single women. However, an amendment that would have extended eligibility to single men and LGBTQ intended parents was defeated, after then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled his support in the face of ultra-Orthodox opposition.

The country was rocked with protests, tying up traffic and sparring with police in a daylong, nationwide strike widely supported by companies and organizations. In a show of support, rainbow lights and the Star of David were projected on Tel Aviv’s city hall, The New York Times reported.

In February 2020, Israel’s high court ruled that banning LGBTQ intended parents from participating in surrogacy “disproportionately harmed the right to equality and the right to parenthood of these groups and [is] illegal.” But it gave Israeli lawmakers a year to draft and pass a new, inclusive law, with a deadline of March 2021.

Religious Conservatives Block Surrogacy Law Reform

Following the court’s February 2020 decision, ultra-Orthodox lawmakers blocked legislative attempts to expand surrogacy access. Members of the country’s new governing coalition, formed just a month ago in an alliance between conservative and progressive factions and holding a very slim majority, fundamentally disagree on LGBTQ and reproductive rights.

The legislative deadline was later extended to September 2021. But earlier this month, the government informed the court it was “unfeasible” to pass a new law in the current political environment and asked the court to rule.

In its decision, the court wrote that “[a]s it has been determined that the [current] arrangement is unconstitutional, 'a lack of political feasibility' cannot justify the connotation of severe harm to basic rights.”

Israel, considered a bastion of LGBTQ acceptance in the Mideast, is typical of many Western countries still grappling with conservative resistance to LGBTQ equality. LGBTQ people serve openly and proudly in Israel’s military and in elected office, and Tel Aviv is known as a mecca of LGBTQ tourism. But religious conservative factions continue to hold enormous political power and are stridently opposed to any form of LGBTQ equality. That opposition has centered on the rights of LGBTQ people to become parents.

As we wrote, LGBTQ activists sued the government in 2017 over Israel’s discriminatory adoption policies, which historically gave priority to heterosexual couples. As a result, between 2008 and 2017, of 550 same-sex couples who applied to adopt, only three succeeded—compared to more than a thousand heterosexual couples allowed to adopt during the same period, according to The Jewish Journal.

With this week’s ruling, giving gay men and single men another option to become parents, the Middle East and the world have a new role model for LGBTQ equality and reproductive rights for everyone.

Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.