Orthodox Jews’ Anti-Gay Stance Continues to Soften
Orthodox Judaism may be coming closer to acceptance of gays with the signing of a "statement of principles" by 100 Orthodox rabbis and teachers. But philosophical disparities still yawn between the moderates--such as those who signed the statement--and the more conservative, often anti- gay, haredi, the branch of Orthodox Judaism that excoriates gays and compares them to animals, reported the Jerusalem Post on July 30.
The statement declares that gays are, like heterosexuals, made in God’s image and therefore are deserving of the respect due all human beings. However, the document also rejects family parity for gay and lesbian couples, and--in a parsing of sexuality that echoes the view of the Roman Catholic Church--declares that sexual urges toward members of the same gender are not sinful in themselves, although acting on those urges is wrong.
Another seeming paradox: the statement urges that children being raised by same-sex parents not be looked down upon, even if their parents’ relationship is viewed as improper.
The Jerusalem Post noted that the signing of the statement took place on July 29, only days before the Aug. 1 anniversary of a savage shooting attack on a GLBT youth center in another Israeli city, Tel Aviv that left two young people dead. The killer remains at large.
This year’s Pride parade in Jerusalem also took place on July 29, noted the article, and the city’s deputy mayor, Yitzhak Pindrus, who is a haredi, obtained permission for anti-gay protestors to dog the parade with donkey-shaped placards as a reminder that the more conservative elements among Orthodox Jews view gays as little more than "beasts."
An Associated Press article on the Pride parade noted that anti-gay protesters also carried signs proclaiming, "Gays Play in Hell, Not Jerusalem."
March organizers referred to thus year’s event as an occasion of "mourning" in recognition of the shooting attack in Tel Aviv. The event itself has been the site of violence in the past; five years ago, a haredi extremist stabbed three people who were marching in the parade. On other occasions, rioting by haredi broke out in the streets. In 2007, a police vanguard found itself under attack by the extremists, who hurled stones at the officers, injuring six of them.
Orthodox Judaism generally rejects gays as being deliberately "perverse" or defiant of God’s law. But some among the Orthodox community are beginning to offer a different approach to gay men, suggesting that they be provided with wives and therapy, even while still being allowed to have celibate relationships with male significant others.