Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said that the “abomination” of homosexuality is punishable by execution under Jewish law.
In an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper, Rabbi Amar was quoted as saying homosexuality was a “lust” which could be resisted “as with any other kind of lust”.
Asked about his attitude toward the LGBT community, the rabbi said, “This is a cult of abomination, this is clear. This is an abomination. The Torah requires a death sentence for this. This is in the first row of the most severe transgressions.”
Rabbi Amar has previously been criticised for similar past remarks.
Last year he was condemned for saying most people were “disgusted” by homosexuality, and calling Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade “an embarrassing phenomenon”.
The rabbi emphasized he would not change his stance, even at the price of estranging secular Jews from religious life.
In response to Rabbi Amar’s latest remarks, several members of parliament and leaders of the LGBT community reacted with fury and called for him to be sacked.
“A public figure that puts Israeli citizens’ life at risk using incitement and exclusion should be immediately fired,” three MPs said in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
LGBT activist, Shirley Kleinman, made a complaint to police, accusing Rabbi Amar of incitement to murder. In a post on her Facebook page Ms Kleinman said, “Let’s try and ensure that this man will not remain in his key public position.
“This is not an anti-religious issue… I do have an interest to protect my rights and your rights to live, and [to live with] dignity.”
Dr. Laura Wharton, a member of the Jerusalem City Council for Meretz, wrote a letter to Amar calling on him to retract his comments.