Several Israeli municipalities instructed local schools to discuss equal rights and tolerance after the country’s education minister suggested homosexuality is abnormal and unnatural.
The decision followed a weekend interview published in the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Rafi Peretz was asked what he would do if one of his children had a “different sexual orientation.”
“Thank God, my children grew up in a natural and healthy way. They are building their homes based on Jewish values. I don’t bother my head with ‘what if’ thinking,” Peretz responded.
“In the religious public that lives according to the Torah, a normal family is a man and a woman. We don’t need to ashamed that we live in this natural way,” he also said.
Amir Kochavi, the mayor of the city of Hod Hasharon near Tel Aviv, responded on Facebook, saying he would urge local schools to teach tolerance, the New York Times reported. “I will promote within the municipal educational system a program of democracy, equality, recognition of the other and acceptance of differences. In short – everything that is the opposite of Rabbi Rafi,” Kochavi wrote.
In July, Peretz, who is a rabbi, came under fire for saying in a television interview that that he supports gay conversion therapy and that he has used the practice to help homosexual youth. Days later he walked back his comments.
Peretz is head of the right-wing, religious-Zionist Jewish Home Party. His remarks angered some of his openly gay fellow Knesset members.
“Look, Rabbi Rafi, this is what a ‘natural and healthy’ family looks like in a country in disarray that has let you be its education minister,” Labour-Gesher Party lawmaker Itzik Shmuli said in a tweet that included a photo of his partner and their baby son.