1 of 3 | Activists attend a demonstration for LGBT rights in Tel Aviv, Israel. The country's health ministry said Tuesday that same-sex couples can pursue parental surrogacy. File Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE
Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Israel announced on Tuesday that the country will begin allowing same-sex couples, single fathers and transgender individuals to pursue parental surrogacy.
The news was delivered by Israeli health minister Nitzan Horowitz, who said the rules will take effect on Jan. 11.
The health ministry said the new rules will allow equal access to surrogacy across Israel.
Parenting children through surrogacy had previously been banned for same-sex couples, single men and transgender people in Israel.
Israel's highest court ruled last February that the ban was unconstitutional and current laws stipulate that surrogacy for parenthood is open only to heterosexual married couples or single women who have a genetic connection to the baby.
"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 at the time.
"This is a historic day for the struggle of the LGBT community in Israel and for Israeli society as a whole. We are putting an end to years of injustice and discrimination -- the surrogacy equality revolution is underway," Horowitz told The Jerusalem Post.
Horowitz is the second openly-gay member of the Knesset, Israel's legislative body. In an interview with the Times of Israel, he called the topic a "personal struggle."
The first legal challenge to Israeli surrogacy laws was filed in 2011 by a same-sex couple and has dragged on for more than a decade.