Israeli MK resigns after attending gay wedding

Sephardi rabbis called on senior members of his party 'not to endorse this terrible desecration of God’s blessed name'


A religious Israeli politician has resigned from the Knesset after rabbis condemned his decision to attend his gay nephew’s wedding.

Yigal Gueta, of the Sephardi orthodox Shas party, handed in his resignation on Wednesday morning to the leader of the party, Aryeh Deri, after a group of prominent Sephardi rabbis published an open letter urging that he be fired.

In an interview with Israel's Army Radio on Monday, Mr Gueta described how his sister told him two years ago that her son, Mr Gueta's nephew, was getting married to a man. 

The MK recalled telling his children that “the Torah says this [relationship] is forbidden and an abomination” but “we’re going in order to make him happy, because he’s my sister’s son, and she’s my sister and I want to embrace her."

Mr Gueta said the family all went to the wedding, even though he doesn't "usually tell [them] which events they should go to". He added: "For this, I said that showing up is mandatory. We all went so we could make him very happy.”

However, on Tuesday, the Times of Israel reported that a group of prominent Israeli Sephardi rabbis, including Rabbi Ben Zion Mutzafi and Rabbi Moshe Tzedaka, the dean of the Sephardi Porat Yosef yeshiva in Jerusalem, published a letter calling for the politician to be sacked.

“Mr Gueta, they said, 'told his entire family that they were required to attend the ‘wedding’ of his nephew, which is a terrible prohibition, among the most severe of the most severe in the Torah.”

They called upon senior members of Shas “not to endorse this terrible desecration of God’s blessed name, and to remove and fire [Gueta] immediately from his public position… and to advertise the fact of his firing”.

Although a sitting MK cannot be removed by his party, less than 24 hours later Mr Gueta officially resigned as a member of Israel’s Knesset, with Mr Deri accepting his resignation.

A number of members of the Knesset from other parties spoke out against the situation.

“Losing a friend in the Knesset today”, Yael Cohen Paran, MK for the Zionist Union, tweeted. “Yigal Gueta told the story about his nephew’s wedding a few months ago. I thought - well done, it’s not all dark [news]. I was wrong.”

And Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, tweeted: “It’s sad that in Israel in 2017 an MK is forced to resign because he participated in the wedding of two people who love each other.”

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