What does Judaism say about homosexuality?

Many Orthodox Jews oppose homosexuality on the grounds that:

  • it is considered by many to be unnatural
  • it results in childless couples, and so does not fulfil God's request to be fruitful and multiply
  • male homosexuality is forbidden by the teachings in Leviticus
  • homosexuality usually results in sex outside of marriage

Some Reform Jews may accept homosexuality, arguing that today's culture is very different to that of the Ancient Hebrews. However, most Orthodox Jews would argue that God's commands must be obeyed in a literal sense, in the same way that they follow the Jewish laws relating to food.

What does this mean in practice?

Most Liberal Jews support the view that God also created gay people, so both male and female homosexuality can be considered natural.

Lionel Blue is a British Rabbi who used to broadcast on BBC's Thought for the Day radio programme. He is an openly gay Rabbi who has been speaking on behalf of the Jewish gay community for many years.

Although the biblical book of Leviticus prescribes the death penalty for male homosexual acts, it is not believed by most modern Jews to be a binding religious rule. Ancient rabbis prohibited homosexuality in order to distinguish Jewish practices from those of Greeks and Romans for whom homosexuality was common practice. Nowadays Liberal and some Reform Jews are happy to accept civil partnerships and respect homosexual relationships that are loving and committed.

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