( dpa ) - In a landmark ruling, Israeli Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has ruled that same-sex couples may adopt children in Israel "in the proper circumstances and when it is in the best interests of the child," the Jerusalem Post daily reported Monday.
The ruling comes after Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog decided in December to change his ministry's long-standing policy and allow same-sex couples to apply to adopt children through regular channels.
The Israeli government had previously barred same-sex couples in the country from adopting children, and until 2000 also refused to register same-sex couple adoptions which had been certified abroad.
But a High Court decision that year accepted a petition from a lesbian couple allowing one partner to be registered as the adoptive mother of the other partner's biological son.
According to the statement released by Mazuz Sunday, "there is no legal reason to prevent a same-sex couple, or either one of them, from adopting a child who is not the biological offspring of one of the partners, according to the same criteria applied to a single person whop wants to adopt a child and conditional, as is customary, on considerations of the best interests of the child."
Mazuz's decision drew sharp rebukes form ultra-Orthodox circles in Israel, with Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai calling it "nauseating" and saying he viewed very gravely "the repeated trampling and erosion of the family unit."