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All homosexual behavior is forbidden among Jews, but some actions are clearly Torah prohibitions (e.g. mishkav zachar), while some might be Rabbinic in nature (e.g. lesbian relations). Are all of these forbidden for non-Jews, or may non-Jews perform some behaviors that are Rabbinically prohibited to Jews?

Here are my thoughts: On the one hand, I would have thought that Rabbinic prohibitions should not apply to non-Jews at all. On the other hand, the very fact that lesbian relations are looked down upon as maaseh Mitzrayim ("the way of the Egyptians") would seem to imply that it is bad for non-Jews to perform them as well.

In addition, for some homosexual relations there is an argument among the Rishonim about whether they are Torah or Rabbinic prohibitions (e.g. forms of male intimacy that fall under the prohibition of lo tikrevu). We hold by those who say that they are prohibited by the Torah, but I wonder whether non-Jews might be able to rely on those who say that they are only Rabbinically prohibited for Jews, and therefore possibly permitted to non-Jews.

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  • I've looked at the following question but it doesn't answer my main questions here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/16257/…
    – user3318
    Nov 5, 2013 at 17:02
  • The second paragraph seems like a duplicate of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30418/759
    – Double AA
    Nov 5, 2013 at 17:23
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    See Rambam (Hil. M'lachim, 9:6): וחייב על הזכור בין קטן בין גדול. As far as מעשה ארץ מצרים, "bad" ≠ strictly forbidden.
    – Fred
    Nov 5, 2013 at 18:02
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    If the end of the question is referring to לא תקרבו, even if it is דאורייתא I don't think it applies to בני נח
    – wfb
    Nov 5, 2013 at 21:02
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    I don't know what lavin you are talking about, but גילוי עריות means something very specific for Jews as well as for non-Jews and קריבה is not that
    – wfb
    Nov 6, 2013 at 3:50

3 Answers 3

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Mesoras Moshe Vol. I (by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's personal secretary), page 505. (Rabbi Feinstein was responding to a rather messy story ... I can't do it justice here ...)

Our teacher [Rabbi Feinstein] added that honestly, for women to "frolic" -- even for Jews is not a prohibition per se, rather something distasteful (mecho'ar). And perhaps for non-Jews it is entirely permissible, but it is understood that one who does this generally gets mixed up in other things, as the philosophy of this act fits with other acts, and therefore, it should be opposed.

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Homosexuality between two gentile males is forbidden. This is based on the gemara (Sanhedrin 58a), and codified by Rambam (Melachim 9:5; see also Issurei Biah 14:10).

שש עריות אסורות על בני נח. האם, ואשת האב, ואשת איש, ואחותו מאמו, וזכור, ובהמה: שנאמר 'על כן יעזוב איש את 'אביו' - זו אשת אביו, 'ואת אמו' - כמשמעה, 'ודבק באשתו' - ולא באשת חבירו 'באשתו' - ולא בזכור 'והיו לבשר אחד' - להוציא בהמה חיה ועוף שאין הוא והם בשר אחד

This refers to the specific act of intercourse.

In general, other sexual acts in a forbidden union are prohibited due to 'לא תקרבו לגלות ערוה' (either biblically or rabinically - subject to an argument between Rambam and Ramban). It is a dispute between the Poskim if this applies regarding mishkav zachar. The position of the Minchas Chinuch (178) is that peripheral sexual acts to mishkav zachar are also prohibited; however Tehillah Ledavid (EH 9:7) infers from Tosfos in Yevamos that it is permitted. Even according to the Minchas Chinuch, the prohibition of לא תקרבו לגלות ערוה does not apply to gentiles.

In reference to lesbian activity, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Dibros Moshe, Shabbos V2 Ch 59 cited in this answer, see also Mesores Moshe, cited by @shalom in this answer) opines that it is permitted for gentile women. However, R' Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yaakov EH 14) in a responsum written to R' Moshe Feinstein [regarding the permissibility of IVF treatment] assumed that lesbian relationships are forbidden even to gentiles.

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  • Why wouldn't lo sikrevu apply to mishkav zachar like it does to all other arayos? Mar 11 at 19:05
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The prohibition against prohibited sexual relations (which is a negative commandment and also includes all forms of homosexual practice) pertains to all mankind, both Jew (through the 613 commandments incumbent on the Jewish people) and non-Jew (through the 7 commandments of Noah which are incumbent on the complement of all mankind), men and women (who are equally obligated like men in all negative commandments, whether time bound or not) from the written Torah.

This is because the prohibition derives from the root commandment to be fruitful and multiply (Bereshit 1:28) which was the first commandment given to Adam HaRishon (even before the commandment concerning eating permissible food and prohibiting consumption of forbidden food, see Bereshit 2:16-17), who is the root of all humans, before his wife was taken from him (split off from his root soul and from his body literally) and built from him (Bereshit 2:22-23).

And Adam HaRishon was told that this commandment contains 3 dimensions, the central, single, general command (קו האמצעי) and its 2 branches, one positive (מצות עשה מפי החסד היינו ימין) & the other negative (מצות לא תעשה מפי הגבורה היינו שמאלה) (Bereshit 2:15).

This parallels the paradigm established at the very beginning of Creation, that there was a single light everywhere (Bereshit 1:3) and that light was then later manifest as two great and equal sources of light (Bereshit 1:14-16) which were further differentiated into a greater source of light and a lesser source of light. The lesser source of light was actually broken up and part of it was transformed to be the stars which is the allegory to having offspring, meaning to be fruitful and multiply.

For details and sources concerning this prohibition see the following answer beginning with the words, "The first source to review is Sifra", etc.

https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/134257/7303

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    That's assuming the Sifra is a deorasya (in all its forms) and not an asmachta; that the Sifra is not differentiating between marriage and casual relations; and ignoring a whole lot of niglah poskim about the prohibition for women being less.
    – Shalom
    May 16, 2023 at 1:42
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    ... is Pru Urvu one of the Sheva Mitzvos Bnai Noach?
    – Shalom
    May 16, 2023 at 17:48
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    How do you know that the prohibition of homosexuality stems from the mitzvah of pru urvu? As @Shalom mentioned, non-Jews aren't commanded in pru urvu so you need a different angle to answer this question. I don't see how adultery is the negative dimensino of pru urvu. One can easily be fruitful and multiply with other people's wives...The two concepts are independent. How do you know that homosexuality is included in the forbidden relations for a non-Jew? That is the crux of the question here...which you totally ignore.
    – robev
    May 16, 2023 at 20:42
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    The prohibition against prohibited sexual relations (which is a negative commandment and includes all forms of homosexuality) How do you know? That's their entire question...
    – robev
    May 16, 2023 at 20:45
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    Perhaps a homosexual is nullifying the obligation of pru urvu but that's not relevant to who is liable for homosexual relations or not. The negative elements of that commandment apply to all Jewish women and also form the foundation for all the 7 Noahide commandments. That requires citation for as far as I can tell you made that up.
    – robev
    May 17, 2023 at 5:53

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