Rabbi says he’s not homophobic, but Israel is turning into ‘LGBTistan’
A leading conservative rabbi has said homosexuality is “an illness” and that Israel “looks more and more like LGBT-stan.”
Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira is the dean of a religious teaching institution, the Ramat Gan Yeshiva, which receives government funding.
The rabbi, who also teaches at Bar-Ilan University – which is attended by more than 20,000 students – was speaking at a right-wing religious conference.
He complained that those who voice homophobic views are often seen as homophobic.
“Anyone who says something about a healthy and faith-based family is considered to have phobias, to be someone who is an extremist,” he said.
“Why? Because he expressed an opinion that has been the basis of all humanity and the entire Torah!”
He continued: “I have invested many hours in helping those who have difficulty in this area [of homosexuality].
“But there is an illness that is spreading and taking over. We’re becoming a country that looks more and more like LGBTistan.”
The rabbi protested that he and others like him were being “attacked” for promoting anti-gay opinions.
“We are not homophobic and not extremist,” he said.
“When the atmosphere around is LGBTistan, we are distressed, because we are being singled out for expressing the voice of sanity.”
He added: “They hate us for our sanity.”
Activists have organised a protest outside the rabbi’s yeshiva next week, according to The Times of Israel.
Zehava Galon, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, criticised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for using his government to fund Shapira’s yeshiva.
She said: “Netanyahu can speak until tomorrow in the United States about integrating the gay community, but as long as the state continues to finance this rabbi, he represents [Israel] more than another AIPAC speech.”
Shapira was among the rabbis who signed a letter sent to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked last year to oppose adoption by same-sex parents.
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The letter read: “These days voices are being raised seeking to change the custom of the state, in a way that is contrary to the human morality that emanates from our holy Torah.
“Our holy Torah is a beacon and moral compass to the Jewish people and the whole world.
“Therefore, it is fitting that in Israel we be on guard to strengthen family values and preserve a public space that respects the values of human morality and Judaism,” it added.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of same-sex couples, and from June this year, homophobic discrimination in this area will be outlawed.