Chief Rabbi says gay people punishable by death under Jewish law

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Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar told an Israeli newspaper that the “abomination” of homosexuality is punishable by execution under Jewish law.

In an interview with Israel Hayom, Rabbi Amar said it was “clear that it [homosexuality] is abomination. The Torah punishes it with death. This is in the first line of serious sins”, BBC News reports.

Rabbi Amar was also quoted as saying homosexuality was a “lust”, and something that individuals could choose to resist.

Rabbi Amar is the current leader of the Sephardic Jewish community in Jerusalem, though many political and community leaders are now calling for him to be removed from his role.

Members of Parliament have written to the Israeli Prime Minister to complain about the rabbi’s comments, which are the latest in a series of anti-LGBT remarks made by the religious leader.

He previously called Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade “an embarrassing phenomenon”, claiming most people were disgusted by homosexuality and the parade’s “desecration of God’s name in Jerusalem.”

Rabbi Amar also previously claimed that Benjamin Netanyahu was not fit to be Israeli Prime Minister, because he supported the gay pride parade.

Despite his staunch anti-LGBT views, Rabbi Amar denounced the murder of Israeli teen Shira Banki at the city’s gay pride parade in 2015, describing it as “terrible act of blood-letting.”

On the whole, Israel has the most progressive attitudes towards LGBT issues in the Middle East, and although same-sex marriage is not performed within the country, same-sex marriages are recognised.