Rabbi Ariel
Rabbi ArielEliran Aharon

Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut and Justices Anat Baron and Ofer Grosskopf rejected the LGBT Association's petition against the awarding of the Israel Prize to former chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel.

Rabbi Ariel is expected to receive the award this week at the Israel Awards ceremony, held every year on Independence Day.

The association requested that Rabbi Ariel's case be returned to the Judiciary Committee appointed for selecting candidates, since, according to the petitioners, when the committee provided its recommendation, they were not aware of Rabbi Ariel's attacks on the LGBT community.

Judge Baron noted in the ruling, "It is neither possible nor correct to limit the Israel Prize to [individuals holding consensus opinions.] Instead, candidates should be measured according to their professional achievements and their contribution in their field of work."

Regarding Rabbi Ariel, the judge noted, "Rabbi Ariel's statements regarding the LGBT community are jarring, blatant and involve the entire community but are not directly related to the professional realm for which [he was nominated for] the award, and since his statements are protected by the right to freedom of speech, [his views] are irrelevant."

Baron added, "Whether we like it or not, at the present moment, the discourse about the very legitimacy of the LGBT community still exists in Israeli society and there are those who still believe, notwithstanding [progress in the said area], that Jewish law does not allow dignity and equality to be allotted to the LGBT community. However, in a democratic society, the struggle for equal rights cannot be decided by way of shutting up those who stand in its way."