MK Avi Wortzman
MK Avi WortzmanIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A special MKs’ session Tuesday at the Conference for the Welfare of the Child in Be’er Sheva turned into a debate on gay marriage.

During the conference MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) mentioned a complaint from two men who were denied tax credit for their child, who they are both raising. Tax credit for young children is normally applied toward the mother’s salary.

The men say they got a letter from the Tax Authority suggesting that they find a woman who could receive tax credits on their behalf.

Deputy Minister of Education Avi Wortzman (Jewish Home) argued that the men are not eligible for the tax credit, which is meant for families. “A family is a father, mother and child, not two fathers and a child,” he declared.

“You can’t define what ‘family’ means,” MK Kol shot back.

MK Kol has been active in promoting civil marriage in Israel. She also put forth a bill to grant same-sex couples a tax discount; the bill initially faced opposition from the Jewish Home party, which accused Kol of attempting to "force a change in the status quo through the back door."

However, a compromise was eventually reached giving same-sex couples the equal tax breaks but not through official recognition in the legislation, sparing Jewish Home from being perceived as officially condoning same-sex marriage.

Jewish Home, as well as Likud Beytenu, drew criticism for voting for or abstaining from the vote on the bill; Bennett voted for the bill while the rest of Jewish Home abstained.

MK Kol also accused the school system of doing children a disservice by being reluctant to discuss issues such as prostitution and eating disorders. She called on the government to fund a hotline for children which they could call to discuss pressing issues.

Wortzman noted the creation of a new program to teach parenting skills. The new program – a sort of “parenting school” run by the Education Ministry – will open next year with 500 groups of parents, he said.

MK Penina Tamanu-Shata (Yesh Atid) spoke about a law she sponsored, which recently passed a final Knesset vote. The law requires the state to provide immigrant families with a special translator in any situation in which Child Welfare services are involved with the family, and in particular, if there is any risk that children may be removed from the parents’ custody.

Tamanu-Shata argued that immigrant families in crisis often do not understand what is happening during their interactions with Child Welfare authorities. Her claim was met with protest from participants in the conference, particularly social workers from the Child Welfare division.