Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled a controversial law that bars same-sex couples and single men from accessing surrogacy services is discriminatory -- and ordered it be changed, or entirely eliminated.
The high court's unanimous decision, handed down Thursday, was a victory for Israel's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, which staged mass protests in 2018 after the Knesset limited the law to allow only single women and heterosexual couples to become parents via surrogacy.
An attempt to amend the controversial statute to include same-sex couples was not successful, despite support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"The sweeping exclusion of homosexual men from the use of surrogacy is viewed as 'suspicious' discrimination, suggesting that this part of the population is inferior," Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justices Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel wrote in Friday's decision.
The plaintiffs, the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, celebrated the victory.
"Even if there's still a ways to go to reach full equality, from today we can all raise a family -- just like everyone else," group co-founders Itai and Yoav Finks Arad said. "We must now see to it that the next government enacts a new, egalitarian law."
The high court ordered the Knesset to amend the legislation within 12 months or it would move to strike it entirely from the books.
Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz -- who will again face off against Netanyahu in another election Monday, the third in less than a year -- also welcomed the ruling.
"The time has come to actually amend the surrogacy bill, rather than just talking about it," he said. "A Blue and White-led government is the only one that would amend the bill and ensure equality."