UK chief rabbi defends LGBTQ+ community after backlash over gay Knesset speaker: ‘Love every Jew’

Ephraim Mirvis smiles as he looks off to the left, wearing a black coat.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has come out in defence of the LGBTQ+ community after the appointment of Israel’s first openly gay speaker.

The United Hebrew Congregations Rabbi told religious members during an interview with Channel 13 that every human was created “in the image of God.”

“This is how we must look at each and everyone,” he added. “We all know the [halachic] prohibitions, but at the same time, we forbid to hate.”

Ephraim Mirvis speaks into a microphone during an address
Ephraim Mirvis told Channel 13 he believed LGBTQ+ solidarity was the “Torah’s position.” (Getty)

The speech came amid backlash after Amir Ohana was elected as the first-ever gay Knesset speaker in December 2022.

Ohana was nominated as speaker in a decisive 63-5 vote on Thursday (29 December) by the Israeli legislature.

After the vote, he told members that he would “pledge to do my best to be worthy of the trust you put in me,” as homophobic lawmakers turned away from him.

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Several more lambasted Ohana after his appointment, with some saying his election is “unbearable.”

Israeli Rabbi Meir Mazuuz called Ohana “diseased” for being part of the LGBTQ+ community while calling participants of the annual Jerusalem Pride “beasts walking upright.”

Additionally, Jerusalem’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Amar, said that those voting for Ohana are “such a disgrace.”

“This whole thing with the abominations – today they’re glorified. For Shame. Such a disgrace,” he said. “Woe to the ears that hear of such things.

“They appoint them to roles that are considered lofty. They have lost all of their shame.”

In response to these and various other homophobic remarks, Ephraim Mirvis said that LGBTQ+ solidarity wasn’t a “liberal” view, but rather the “Torah’s position.”

The former Cheif Rabbi of Ireland published the first-ever guide for ultra-orthodox Jewish schools to help make the lives of LGBTQ+ pupils easier.

“I wrote from a Torah point of view exactly how we should treat such difficult situations and how to guide youth in our communities from a halachic point of view in our schools,” he said.

Mirvis added that his efforts were to help religious LGBTQ+ pupils who want to “feel part of the religious world of Judaism” without discrimination.

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