Gay Israeli couples who want to adopt came one step closer to doing so in Israel this week after a surrogacy bill passed its first reading in the Knesset.

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A bill for same-sex civil marriage was defeated in December

The would-be law, which passed with a majority of 45 votes to 15, would mean the country’s same-sex couples no longer have to go abroad to adopt, and would instead be able to have children via surrogates in Israel.

“This bill is about the principle of equality, regardless of one’s sexual orientation or the composition of the family unit,” said Health Minister Yael German, who first submitted the bill in January.

“Everyone has the right to become a parent.”

It was brought in part as a response to the growing number of Israelis travelling abroad each year to use foreign surrogates, raising legal and ethical questions which Israeli lawmakers acknowledged they were “required to address”.

However, it has met with some opposition, with ultra right-wing nationalist Housing Minister Uri Ariel, from the pro-settler party Jewish Home, among those appealing against it.

Orthodox politician Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism said: “The health minister presented a bill meant to destroy the nature of family as we know it.

Shas MK Nissim Zeev added: “This is a corrupt bill and only corrupt [MKs] can support it. We are treating the import and export of babies as if we were dealing with frozen meat. This bill is morally depraved.”