A Jewish initiative may see gay men marrying women to have children while continuing relationships with their male partners.

It was introduced by Rabbi Menachem Burstein, head of the prestigious Orthodox Puah Institute, at a conference titled ‘Parenthood at any cost?’.

Rabbi Burstein said he has been approached by a number of gay Jewish men who want to have children but also want to keep within halachic law, which is Jewish religious law.

The idea would involve a gay man marrying a woman with both parties aware the union would be solely to produce children. The man would continue his relationship with his male partner, although it would have to be non-sexual. The man would also have to receive counselling about his homosexuality from religious psychologists.

According to TheJC.com, Rabbi Burstein said: “I explained to them that one thing I, or any other rabbi, could never do was to alter the prohibition on mishkav zachar [penetrative sex between men], as it is from the Torah. When they accepted that, and clarified that they wanted a solution within halachah, we could go forward.”

He added: “Although this is certainly not an ideal marriage, if both sides are prepared, then it does not really matter if they conceive through artificial insemination or relations that are aimed solely at conception.”

Rabbi Burstein said that although having desires for other men was not a sin, acting on them is.

“There is nothing wrong with two men having a close relationship without intimate relations and we should not penalise people who are not attracted to members of the other sex,” he said.

“Of course we believe it is a problem and that the solution should be therapy, but there are always going to be a certain number of religious homosexuals who have tried and failed to change. What about them?” A number of senior rabbis are consulting on the issue and the next step is to discuss what the effect of such an arrangement might have on children born within it.

Despite its limitations, the move has been heralded as revolutionary, as it is a recognition from that Orthodox establishment in Israel that homosexuality does exist.