Chief Rabbi: After Orlando, we must open our Synagogues to LGBT people

The Chief Rabbi has said that Orthodox Judaism must reform to become LGBT-inclusive, following the attacks in Orlando.

49 people were killed and 53 injured in the shocking terrorist hate crime attack over the weekend, which saw a gunman open fire inside The Pulse gay bar in Orlando, Florida.

With over 100 people dead or injured, it stands at the largest-scale shooting in US history.

Across the world, countries mourned the victims by flying the Pride flag at half-mast and lighting up buildings in rainbow colours.

That includes the UK’s Jewish News, which introduced a rainbow masthead this week alongside a statement from the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Reform and Liberal Judaism have many openly gay Rabbis and permit same-sex weddings, but the Chief Rabbi’s movement, the United Synagogue, has been slow to warm to LGBT rights.

The Chief Rabbi said: “In the face of such unspeakable violence, we must be introspective.

“The Torah takes a clear, well-known position on acts of homosexual intimacy but it also leaves us in no doubt about our responsibility to provide a welcoming environment in our Synagogues and beyond for all Jews, regardless of their level of religious observance, ethnicity or sexuality.

“After Orlando, we must take a step beyond condemnation and open our hearts and our Synagogues so that no Jew feels persecuted or excluded from the warm embrace of our communities.

“Together with adherents of all faiths and none, may we all find the courage to overcome the forces of division and darkness so that we might create a more peaceful and tolerant world.”

He added: “As Jews, we join with all of those across the world who stand defiant and united in declaring that there is absolutely no place for hatred or intolerance in our societies.

“We must also be honest enough to recognise that there are places where the scourge of homophobia persists, even in our own communities, and that is totally unacceptable.

“Where that hate is religiously motivated, faith leaders and faith communities carry a particular responsibility to act.”