Open Letter to the leaders and rabbis of Orthodox Judaism
We are a group of pioneers who are walking an unpaved path, who are part of the Orthodox community, and who wish to remain part of it. We do not give up on our religious identity, nor do we wish to abandon our homosexual identity. We found it appropriate to establish an independent website, www.hod.org.il, which is run by and intended for Orthodox homosexuals.
We believe that a considerable part of the hatred directed towards homosexuals is a consequence of ignorance, lack of awareness and the absence of accessible information for religious people about homosexuality and its extent. Therefore, on our website you can hear our voice and get abundant information about a topic that was once considered taboo, for the first time without taking a judgmental approach.
The fear of legitimization of the gay lifestyle cannot be misused as a pretext for delegitimization and demonization of homosexuals, for neglecting the phenomenon and its extent, or for any other violation of the Halachic laws between man and his fellow man.
A certain percentage of the population in any society is mainly or exclusively homosexual by nature and not by choice. They feel attracted predominantly or exclusively to persons of the same sex, without being able to change that attraction. Delegitimization and calls for violence do not diminish the extent of the phenomenon, but only increase the suffering of homosexual youngsters and their families, who often live in distress.
As can be confirmed by the contents of the HOD website and the attached 'Ten points', we certainly do not want to twist Halachic demands, but wish to remain within the boundaries that Jewish law defines. In any case, most points deal with social issues and not with Halachic ones.
We believe that HOD’s ten points are the key to ensuring a minimum standard of living for religious homosexuals in the Orthodox society.
Hereby attached is the document containing HOD’s ten points. We would be glad to hear your opinions or suggestions. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The HOD webteam
HOD's ten points
We would like to raise the following ten points for consideration by the leaders and the rabbis of the Orthodox community:
1) A certain percentage of the population in any society is mainly or exclusively homosexual by nature and not by choice. They feel attracted predominantly or exclusively to persons of the same sex, without being able to change that attraction.
2) Homosexuals should not be blamed for being that way. Blaming Homosexuals would be a severe violation of many of the Halachic commandments governing interpersonal relations.
3) In some cases, psychological treatments may be required. However, therapies that have as a purpose the alteration of sexual orientation are of dubious nature. The practice of such therapies should be discouraged, since they have no evidence of efficacy, while it is known that they may cause severe psychological damage. Gay men should not be subjected to conversion therapy and the practice of such therapies should be discouraged.
4) Homosexual intercourse is what Jewish law considers a transgression, as opposed to the sexual orientation itself. For religious gay men, this challenge may be very hard to endure. The injunction is one of the most challenging in the entire Jewish law system.
5) A Jewish gay who engages in prohibited homosexual acts belongs to the Halachic category of the "mumar leteavon" (sinned because of uncontrollable desire) and not to that of the "mumar lehachis" (malevolent sinner). It is therefore prohibited to reject him from the Orthodox community.
6) All Halachic commandments concerning interpersonal relations apply to the relation to homosexual Jews as well. They should be acknowledged as members of the religious community in the full sense of the word: joining the congregation, delivering the Priestly Blessing and so on.
The treatment of Orthodox gays should not be any different from the way other
persons that are at risk of committing a sin are treated.
7) Homosexuals should be accepted as a part of the religious community, jointly with the rest of the people of Israel. It is of great importance to set up support groups for homosexual people in distress. If a homosexual person has a close friend or relative who knows he can share the issue with in order to support and help him, it is desirable he does so
8) Religious gay men should be encouraged to be as observant of Jewish law as is possible for them. An ‘all or nothing’ policy is opposed to the Halacha.
9) A gay man may not be coerced into marriage. Marriage does not only include readiness to engage into a sexual relationship, but also the capability to manage a healthy relationship with the spouse, which implies complete honesty already before the marriage. Encouraging a gay man to marry without divulging his orientation explicitly is a transgression of the Halachic prohibition ‘Thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind’.
10) There is no Halachic injunction concerning consenting affectionate relationships between two people of the same sex.