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Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi Calls for Removal of Pride Flags


Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Stern said Pride flags were "the opposite" of holiness in a letter to Jerusalem's mayor.

Just after protests took place across Israel over a law that denies state-supported surrogacy to gay couples, the chief rabbi of Jerusalem sent a letter to Mayor Nir Barkat pleading for Pride flags near synagogues to be removed.

The letter, which was sent Tuesday, took issue with the rainbow flags outside two of Jerusalem's major synagogues, on the route where the city's Pride parade will be held Thursday, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"Although it has already been made clear to us that it is impossible to prevent this march, one request we do have is that the flags not be flown on King George Street on the section by the Great Synagogue and the Yeshurun Synagogue which are considered to be symbols of the holiness of Jerusalem," wrote Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Stern.

"Everyone is able to understand that flags which unfortunately symbolize the opposite should not be flown there," he added.

Stern, who is in an elected position to oversee life for all of the Ashkenazi Jews in the capital of the Jewish state, has previously shown contempt for LGBT people.

He has said same-sex couples should be accepted in synagogues, but gay people should not be appointed as clergy members.

Recently, Stern voiced opposition to gay parenting when a law was passed extending state subsidies for surrogacy to single women but not single men or same-sex couples. The subsidies were previously available only to opposite-sex couples.

Last week, he said allowing gay couples to become parents via surrogacy would cause "children to be born and enter a very strange and unnatural life, a life without a mother and father," and claimed the children's lives would be "wretched."

Two hundred rabbis, including the senior-most leaders of Israel's religious right, followed suit, signing a letter condemning surrogacy and adoption for LGBT people, describing them as "perverts."

The Orthodox branch of Judaism is hostile to LGBT equality, while the other two major branches of the faith, Conservative and Reform, are LGBT-accepting.

Despite Stern's opposition to the rainbow flags, they will not be taken down, the Post reports.

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Ariel Sobel