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Nowadays more and more people in modern western society are identifying themselves as LGBT+. Recently I have experiences several of my classmates 'come out' as being part of this group (either being gay, or bisexual). Over the past few years many people that have been otherwise halachically observant I know have become much more lenient and accepting of this, with some of them ever becoming very close friends with these people, and some even embracing homosexuality, and have started to take the approach that homosexuality as well as LGBT+ are not a matter of choice, and is instead something people cannot change or help. My question is this: Are they in the wrong by being more tolerant of these people despite clear halachic prohibitions over homosexuality, and is it allowed to be close friends with people who are part of the LGBT+ community?

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    Hi Jewboy. You've gotten two answers addressing being friends with sinners/evildoers. Is that what you intended to ask about? It looks like you're asking about being friends with people who identify as gay or lesbian. Obviously, those two groups like most any two groups overlap partially and not entirely. Can you clarify what you are seeking
    – Double AA
    May 14, 2023 at 2:23
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    Let's be clear, being homosexual is not a sin. Homosexual behaviour is sinful. See Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb's shiur on alternative lifestyles. So, there's no default prohibition being friends with someone who is homosexual, and even if they engage in sinful behaviour, it all depends. Many people engage in sinful behaviours and every case needs to be taken on an individual basis. It all depends on the values of the people whose company you keep.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 14, 2023 at 2:38
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    Welcome to MiYodeya Jewboy and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    May 14, 2023 at 3:30
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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Jewboy and thank you for contributing a timely, relevant and meaningful question for our time. Like Rabbi Kaii says, being LGBTQ+, etc, is not a sin in cases where this is how someone was created, ר״ל. Like with all matters related to the commandments (mitzvot), the act is the primary principle. The following linked answer addresses what you are asking. judaism.stackexchange.com/a/134257/7303 May 14, 2023 at 12:48
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    You can never compromise on Torah, but what the right way to deal with people is complex. Are these people Jewish or observant? Will they listen to you? Are you just classmates and nothing more, or also friends? Ideally you should run your situation by a Rav for advice.
    – N.T.
    May 15, 2023 at 3:47

4 Answers 4

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The answer is no, they are not wrong by being friendly towards Jews who happen to be gay. It is a Mitzvah to "love thy neighbour, as yourself". Furthermore, homosexuality in and of itself is not prohibited by halacha. People who are gay are human beings and deserve the same respect you would expect for yourself.

So Yes, you absolutely can be friends with this person.

https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/57104.14?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

Originally Published: July, 2010/ Menachem Av, 5770

For the last six months a number of Orthodox rabbis and educators have been preparing a statement of principles on the place of our brothers and sisters in our community who have a homosexual orientation.

The original draft was prepared by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot. It was then commented upon by and revised based on the input from dozens of talmidei chachamim, educators, communal rabbis, mental health professionals and a number of individuals in our community who are homosexual in orientation.Significant revisions were made based upon the input of Rabbi Aryeh Klapper and Rabbi Yitzchak Blau who were intimately involved in the process of editing and improving the document during the last three months.

The statement below is a consensus document arrived at after hundreds of hours of discussion,debate and editing.

Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community

We, the undersigned Orthodox rabbis, rashei yeshiva, ramim, Jewish educators and communal leaders affirm the following principles with regard to the place of Jews with a homosexual orientation in our community:

  1. All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot). Every Jew is obligated to fulfill the entire range of mitzvot between person and person in relation to persons who are homosexual or have feelings of same sex attraction. Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.

  2. The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect.

  3. Halakhah sees heterosexual marriage as the ideal model and sole legitimate outlet for human sexual expression. The sensitivity and understanding we properly express for human beings with other sexual orientations does not diminish our commitment to that principle.

  4. Halakhic Judaism views all male and female same-sex sexual interactions as prohibited. The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to this prohibition. While halakha categorizes various homosexual acts with different degrees of severity and opprobrium, including toeivah, this does not in any way imply that lesser acts are permitted. But it is critical to emphasize that halakha only prohibits homosexual acts; it does not prohibit orientation or feelings of same-sex attraction, and nothing in the Torah devalues the human beings who struggle with them. (We do not here address the issue of hirhurei aveirah, a halakhic category that goes beyond mere feelings and applies to all forms of sexuality and requires precise halakhic definition.)

  5. Whatever the origin or cause of homosexual orientation, many individuals believe that for most people this orientation cannot be changed. Others believe that for most people it is a matter of free will. Similarly, while some mental health professionals and rabbis in the community strongly believe in the efficacy of “change therapies”, most of the mental health community, many rabbis, and most people with a homosexual orientation feel that some of these therapies are either ineffective or potentially damaging psychologically for many patients. We affirm the religious right of those with a homosexual orientation to reject therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous.

  6. Jews with a homosexual orientation who live in the Orthodox community confront serious emotional, communal and psychological challenges that cause them and their families great pain and suffering. For example, homosexual orientation may greatly increase the risk of suicide among teenagers in our community. Rabbis and communities need to be sensitive and empathetic to that reality. Rabbis and mental health professionals must provide responsible and ethical assistance to congregants and clients dealing with those human challenges.

  7. Jews struggling to live their lives in accordance with halakhic values need and deserve our support. Accordingly, we believe that the decision as to whether to be open about one's sexual orientation should be left to such individuals, who should consider their own needs and those of the community. We are opposed on ethical and moral grounds to both the “outing” of individuals who want to remain private and to coercing those who desire to be open about their orientation to keep it hidden.

  8. Accordingly, Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community. As appropriate with regard to gender and lineage, they should participate and count ritually, be eligible for ritual synagogue honors, and generally be treated in the same fashion and under the same halakhic and hashkafic framework as any other member of the synagogue they join. Conversely, they must accept and fulfill all the responsibilities of such membership, including those generated by communal norms or broad Jewish principles that go beyond formal halakha. We do not here address what synagogues should do about accepting members who are openly practicing homosexuals and/or living with a same-sex partner. Each synagogue together with its rabbi must establish its own standard with regard to membership for open violators of halakha. Those standards should be applied fairly and objectively.

  9. Halakha articulates very exacting criteria and standards of eligibility for particular religious offices, such as officially appointed cantor during the year or baal tefillah on the High Holidays. Among the most important of those criteria is that the entire congregation must be fully comfortable with having that person serve as its representative. This legitimately prevents even the most admirable individuals, who are otherwise perfectly fit halakhically, from serving in those roles. It is the responsibility of the lay and rabbinic leadership in each individual community to determine eligibility for those offices in line with those principles, the importance of maintaining communal harmony, and the unique context of its community culture.

  10. Jews with a homosexual orientation or same sex attraction, even if they engage in same sex interactions, should be encouraged to fulfill mitzvot to the best of their ability. All Jews are challenged to fulfill mitzvot to the best of their ability, and the attitude of “all or nothing” was not the traditional approach adopted by the majority of halakhic thinkers and poskim throughout the ages.

  11. Halakhic Judaism cannot give its blessing and imprimatur to Jewish religious same-sex commitment ceremonies and weddings, and halakhic values proscribe individuals and communities from encouraging practices that grant religious legitimacy to gay marriage and couplehood. But communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting, and we encourage parents and family of homosexually partnered Jews to make every effort to maintain harmonious family relations and connections.

  12. Jews who have an exclusively homosexual orientation should, under most circumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other gender, as this can lead to great tragedy, unrequited love, shame, dishonesty and ruined lives. They should be directed to contribute to Jewish and general society in other meaningful ways. Any such person who is planning to marry someone of the opposite gender is halakhically and ethically required to fully inform his or her potential spouse of their sexual orientation. We hope and pray that by sharing these thoughts we will help the Orthodox community to fully live out its commitment to the principles and values of Torah and Halakha as practiced and cherished by the children of Abraham, who our sages teach us are recognized by the qualities of being rahamanim (merciful), bayshanim (modest), and gomelei hasadim engaging in acts of loving-kindness).

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    Welcome to MiYodeya Scott and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Dec 25, 2023 at 18:23
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It would seem that aside from the issue of being influenced by your surroundings, the other issue with being friends with them would be “machzik yedei ovrei aveira”. This prohibits one from showing that they are in agreement with someone doing an aveira.

The Mishnah in Shveiis 4:3 states:

חוֹכְרִין נִירִין מִן הַנָּכְרִים בַּשְּׁבִיעִית, אֲבָל לֹא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. וּמַחֲזִיקִין יְדֵי נָכְרִים בַּשְּׁבִיעִית, אֲבָל לֹא יְדֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְשׁוֹאֲלִין בִּשְׁלוֹמָן, מִפְּנֵי דַרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם:

They may rent newly plowed land from a Gentile in the seventh year, but not from an Israelite. And they may encourage Gentiles during the seventh year, but not Israelites. They may exchange greetings with them because of the ways of peace.

The commentaries all explain it to mean that when passing a non Jew who is working during shemitta you can say “keep it up” but not to a Jew who is working during shemitta when it’s prohibited. The Rambam says:

ושאמר מחזיקין ידי עכו"ם בדבור לא במעשה כגון שיראה אותם עובדין בשביעית ויאמר להם ה' עמכם או כדומה לזה:

The Gemara in Gittin 62A explains that the Mishnah says you can say Shalom to a non Jew is referring to saying it on their holiday. The Gemara continues, and says that even so, you should say it quietly and without a smile. Since it’s only to keep the peace, saying it with additional zest will imply agreement that there’s something to rejoice about.

דְּתַנְיָא לֹא יִכָּנֵס אָדָם לְבֵיתוֹ שֶׁל גּוֹי בְּיוֹם אֵידוֹ וְיִתֵּן לוֹ שָׁלוֹם מְצָאוֹ בַּשּׁוּק נוֹתֵן לוֹ בְּשָׂפָה רָפָה וּבְכוֹבֶד רֹאשׁ

A person may not enter the home of a gentile on his holiday and extend greetings to him, as it appears that he is blessing him in honor of his holiday. If he encounters him in the market, he may greet him in an undertone and in a solemn manner, so that he does not appear to be rejoicing with him

So while being friends with them in general wouldn’t be an issue, if the topic of their choices comes up, you would have to be careful not to insinuate in any way that you agree with what they do.

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    You started your answer by mentioning the issue of being influenced by your surroundings; but concluded it with "being friends with them in general wouldn’t be an issue". Why aren't you concerned that due to your friendship with them, you might be influenced by them? May 14, 2023 at 12:15
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    I understood the question to be in a strictly halachic sense, so although being influenced by your surroundings is an issue, it’s way broader to be applied specifically. Living in America also influences us in adverse ways just by being in such surroundings. That doesn’t prohibit us from living here.
    – Chatzkel
    May 14, 2023 at 17:28
  • Living in a decadent environment, obligates us to be more proactive in setting up barriers between ourselves and those who don't share the same values as us. In our daily lives, we might need to interact with people whose lifestyles we abhor. We should do so civilly, but warily; striving to keep them at arm's length. We do not want to be overly friendly with them, as that leads to the breakdown of the very barriers that we should be trying to create between us and them. Our choice of friends should be those people who will help us grow spiritually, not those who might drag us down spiritually. May 14, 2023 at 17:57
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As noted in the question, some of the people in your circle have become very close friends with these people; and unfortunately, have now themselves come to embrace homosexuality.

The Mishnah teaches (Avos 1:7):

נִתַּאי הָאַרְבֵּלִי אוֹמֵר הַרְחֵק מִשָּׁכֵן רָע, וְאַל תִּתְחַבֵּר לָרָשָׁע, וְאַל תִּתְיָאֵשׁ מִן הַפֻּרְעָנוּת

Nittai the Arbelite said: Keep a distance from an evil neighbor, Do not become attached to the wicked, and do not abandon faith in [divine] retribution.

This should preclude being friends with people who deviate from the Torah's norms of permitted forms of sexuality.

Being friends with such deviants could be toxic for us, as we're all social creatures, and are easily influenced by the opinions and actions of our friends and those we associate with.

Our choice of friends should be those people who will help us grow spiritually, not those who might drag us down spiritually.

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There is an obligation to rebuke a person for doing a sin.

[Vayikra 19:17]

"You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account."

[See Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos, Assei, 205) "The 205th mitzvah is that we are commanded to admonish a person who is performing a transgression or who is preparing to do so. One must verbally warn him and admonish him..."]

In the case of being friends with homosexuals, have you rebuked them for their sin of homosexual relations? Being friends with them; is the antithesis of rebuke!

Orchot Tzadikim 24

הרביעי: המתחבר לרשע, אף על פי שאינו מחניף לו ואינו משבחו, אלא שהוא מקרבו ומתחבר עמו – יש לו עונש; לא די שאינו מוכיחו אלא שמקרבו, ויש לו עונש בזה.

The fourth category of flattery is he who becomes a companion to the wicked. Even though he does not flatter him and does not praise him, but since he is near to him and in his company, he will be punished. Not only does he not rebuke him, but on the contrary, he brings him near to him in companionship, and puts him at a distance from his rebuke, and there is a sin in this.

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    1. "You're fellow" referring to someone on the same spiritual standing as you but not someone lower. 2. Kitzur shulchan aruch 29:16 one should not give rebuke to someone you suspect will not listen to the rebuke.
    – Dude
    May 14, 2023 at 2:07
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    The question didn't say that there were homosexual relations going on?
    – Heshy
    May 14, 2023 at 14:47
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    @IsraelReader the OP was about being friends with someone who is known to be a homosexual. That doesn't mean he's doing anything wrong. It's no different, as stated, than being friends with someone who has a desire to work on Shabbos or speak lashon hara or eat pork. That doesn't mean he actually does any of those things.
    – Heshy
    May 14, 2023 at 16:08
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    Why should a kleptomaniac hide it? People should be embarrassed by sins, not anything else. If anything he should tell people so that they can help him by not leaving valuable stuff lying around. Should someone with diabetes hide that he has to eat on YK?
    – Heshy
    May 14, 2023 at 18:24
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    I didn't claim anything. You're the one who claimed that this person is doing something wrong. Maybe if Klal Yisrael had more role models who were known to be gay and didn't sin that would be an inspiration to others to also not sin.
    – Heshy
    May 14, 2023 at 21:48

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