An Israeli couple is talking out after a seemingly mundane government application led to an unexpected, allegedly discriminatory inquest.
Guy Sadaka and Hai Aviv, who are gay, have been unitedly for 12 years, NBC News reported. The pair have been seeking to enroll their 2-year-old twins in preschool, and last week they applied for tuition help through the Israeli government.
That arrangement led to them receiving a phone call from the country’s Ministry of Labor and Social Services last Wednesday. Through the call, a representative for the agency said the men that one of them would have to reveal himself the twins’ “mother” on their tuition paperwork, the Israeli news site Ynet stated.
Sadaka said the spokesperson on the phone claimed one of them likely worked less than the “father” in the bond, pressing the couple to resemble themselves to a “normal family.”
“I know that you are both fathers and that you run a shared household, but there is ever the one who is more dominant, who is more ‘the mom,'” the agent said, according to Sadaka.
Both Aviv and Sadaka were surprised by the request. Sadaka said the agent was knowledge of the situation, claiming she was forced to obey a strict set of government guidelines. She eventually told the couple, “Don’t think about it too much,” telling them that it wouldn’t matter what response they gave.
“It kind of forced me to laugh,” Sadaka, 33, told NBC News. “But this confusion in a government office when it’s just about 2020 just seems stupid to me. I felt frustrated that I have to give returns that don’t make any sense.”
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs regretted within hours of the original phone call, saying Aviv and Sadaka it would process their application “instantly” and promising to reevaluate its policies.
“We affirm that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ practices explicitly treat all types of families and allow equal rights to all,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.
Sadaka said this type of unfairness is rare for his family, who live in Tel Aviv. Still, he told NBC News that their conditions could be worse in a less LGBTQ-friendly city.
“Outside Tel Aviv, it’s not the same condition,” he said. “And even in the city, there are owners who won’t rent to gay couples.”
Still, there are several legal hurdles facing LGBTQ people in the country. For example, same-gender marriage is not allowed within Israel. However, the country does legally recognize the same-gender ceremonies performed abroad.
Additionally, approval rights for same-gender couples have long been an issue in the nation, which has made a multi-year battle within the country’s highest courts. Between 2008 and 2017, only three same-gender couples were permitted for adoption in Isreal.
“As long as the religious gatherings still control the government, we won’t see a genuine change,” Sadaka told NBC News.