|Benjamin Cohen of PinkNews.com|
Lord Sacks’ comments are both encouraging and disappointing, leaving more questions than answers and probably reflect the contradictory approach to human sexuality adopted by the United Synagogue. I didn’t know that Lord Sacks had met with this group, but 20 years ago, I was just a little boy.
As far as I know, he has never engaged with the blossoming Jewish LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community since.
Twenty years ago, gays were banned from the military and from adopting children, there was an unequal age of consent and a ban on teachers talking about homosexuality in school. It was also legal to sack someone for being gay and for businesses to ban gay customers.
Most importantly, there were no civil partnerships and certainly no prospect of a Conservative prime minister passionately advocating for the introduction of same-sex marriage. As British society has changed so, too, has the Jewish community, not least because in every synagogue, there are countless families with gay members.
I’ve always felt welcome by my parents’ Orthodox friends, who were also particularly hospitable when my boyfriend attended our shul for the first time during Passover. They’re happy, I’m happy and aren’t concerned about one particular law in the Torah against a private and harmless love no one can logically explain.
Given the changes in British society and our community, it seemed odd the Chief Rabbi would discuss such an old encounter. I wondered if he had perhaps had other meetings with Jewish gay groups since, so I called his office to enquire. The best I achieved was a “no comment” email – a strange way to try engage with a relatively influential member of the gay community.