Madrids Jews deny rabbis anti-gay comments

The Jewish community of Madrid denied the authenticity of quotes attributed to its chief rabbi in which he reportedly called gays “deviants” who need “re-educating.”

The interview was “distorted,” said Ziva Freidkes, a spokeswoman for the Madrid Jewish community, referring to the interview of Rabbi Moshe Bendahan published July 31 on Religion Digital, a Spanish-language news website.

Freidkes said Bendahan never made the negative references to gays and that the interview was “inaccurate and took things out of context.”

The rabbi was quoted as saying, “Homosexuality is a deviation from nature. It’s an anti-natural tendency and a sin. Contemplating allowing, consenting to what is known as ‘gay marriages,’ would be a monstrosity.”

Religion Digital, one of the country’s major news portals on religion, released its own statement reaffirming the veracity of the quotes.

Over the last few years, several senior rabbis in Western Europe have gotten into trouble for their remarks on homosexuality.

In January 2012, Amsterdam’s chief rabbi, Aryeh Ralbag, was suspended briefly by the board of the Jewish community for having co-signed a statement that described homosexuality as an inclination from which one can be “healed.”

Gilles Bernheim, France’s former chief rabbi, criticized the social effects of same-sex unions in a controversial document from 2012. But he also condemned “physical and verbal attacks on gays with the same intensity as I condemn anti-Semitic attacks.”— jta