Should homosexuals be able to adopt?

A number of leading, influential orthodox rabbis including Chaim Druckman, Dov Lior and Shmuel Eliyahu have called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked not to veer from the principle that adoption by parents of the same sex damages the child.

In 2010, American researchers published results from a meta-analysis of 33 studies comparing the well-being of children raised by opposite-sex couples with children raised by same-sex couples. This study found no evidence that children raised by same-sex parents fared any worse than other children on a range of behavioural, educational, emotional or social outcomes.

These rabbis further argue that any change in the current practice in Israel, which limits the right to adopt to heterosexual couples, “contradicts human morality, whose source is in our holy Torah”.

They continue that “our holy Torah serves as a beacon and moral conscience to the Jewish People and the entire world.” I find these words difficult coming from Rabbi Eliyahu, who proclaimed back in 2011: “We don’t sell land in Safed to non-Jews.” He also called on Israelis not to rent or sell apartments to Arabs. This is the man who now claims to speak in the name of “human morality”!

Sometimes the Torah’s morality contradicts the kind of behavior we would expect of a civilized society in the 21st century. Leviticus 18:22 views homosexuality as an abomination for which the punishment is death. I know psychiatrists in Israel who administer drug therapy to homosexual patients coming from “religious” (dati) families in an attempt to dampen their libido.

This is the background to the attempts by Rabbi Druckman and others to deny homosexual and lesbian couples the right to adopt children. My own experience is that they can make exceptionally good and caring parents. They face enough stigmas and prejudice in our society without our denying them the right to raise children.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.