An Open Letter to Rabbi Zvi Telsner

Subject: An Open Letter to Rabbi Zvi Telsner
From: Tom Docking
Date: 13 Feb 2015

Dear Rabbi Telsner,

No, this isn't going to be an message; It saddens me that you're probably going to be receiving a lot of them.

Just as it saddens me regarding the claims you've made about homosexuality.

Whilst I respect your right to an opinion, I implore that you - as a spiritual leader that is looked up to, especially by impressionable youth - to consider the facts of this matter a little more and perhaps try to mitigate some of the harm that you have caused.

Being homosexual is against your precepts, I agree. It is specifically forbidden for one of the Jewish tribes to be homosexual, I accept that.

But being homosexual isn't a choice. It isn't a disease that can be treated, either. And claiming that it can be, causes psychological damage to people struggling with their homosexuality.

I myself struggled with this, being told that it was unnatural, evil etc. (I've since learned that homosexuality has been documented in over 3,000 species - occurring often in nature, and therefore completely natural.)

Not wanting to be gay, I attempted to live a lie, getting married in an attempt to be straight. I overcompensated, directing my self-hatred at other homosexuals (thankfully not in violence or public) because I was disgusted at myself for not being something I wasn’t.

I can only vaguely remember 3 of my suicide attempts, but rest assured, the desire to kill myself for my ‘crime’ was a companion on a nearly-daily basis for the 13 years I lived that lie.

You feel that homosexuality is a disease, which is something we are in disagreement on.

We know that genetics plays a part in predisposition to being gay. We know that the vast majority of the population would actually fit under the heading of “bisexual” and choose to live as heterosexuals. We know that 100% straight and 100% gay is an extremely rare thing, that only a minority are at these polar opposite ends.

Research suggests that homosexuality actually plays an advantageous role in natural species; that sometimes a younger sibling will be homosexual and devote their existence to raising their own sibling’s offspring, so that their sibling can procreate more and increase the spreading of their bloodline.

No, homosexuality is not a choice. If for a moment you have the slightest thought that it is, please think about it rationally; homosexuals are tormented, tortured, murdered. In many places of the world, it is still something punishable by death or life imprisonment (especially in fanatical Christian and Islamic societies!)


Whilst I cannot read the minds of the people constantly beaten and murdered for being homosexual, I can comment on my own experiences. I’m from the rural city of Port Lincoln in South Australia. It is a very conservative area with a large amount of Christian sects. Homosexuality was not tolerated while I lived there.

After being “outed” against my will, I have lost friends of over 30-years simply because of genetics I didn’t choose. I have had extremist Christians spread hate mail, claiming gays should be put to death – something one of the regional Baptist churches does whenever a member of a prominent family come out. Two days after this hate mail campaign, someone tried to put a flare-rocket through my window at 3am. I was fortunate that it bounced off of the window, for if it had penetrated, it would have almost certainly burned my house down as I and the rest of the household (including 3 children) slept.

A close friend, who came out a few years before this, was attacked by 12 people due to being gay. He was struck from behind with a glass bottle and repeatedly kicked and stomped while unconscious on the footpath. I hate to think what would have happened if someone didn’t notice the disturbance and disperse the gang with their car.

Again, I ask, why on earth would any of us choose to be brutalised, hated like that?

Nobody would.

Just like nobody would choose to be gay when it resulted in being sent to the concentration camps during the holocaust. For homosexuals were condemned to the same atrocities during that time as your community was. I wonder if you have forgotten this?

Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it is like to be told that you’re a sickness that needs curing?

“. . . the discovery of the Jewish virus is one of the greatest revolutions that has taken place in the world. The battle in which we are engaged today is of the same sort as the battle waged, during the last century, by Pasteur and Koch. How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus! ... We shall regain our health only be eliminating the Jew.”
- Adolf Hitler (quoted in Burleigh and Wippermann, Racial State, p. 107)

Claiming people who are different to you are sick, an illness, results in the sort of evil above that I do not need to elaborate on.

Homosexuality, once listed as a mental illness, was resoundingly rejected as being so.

Rather than continue to perpetuate centuries-old bigotry, I implore you to reconsider your position. To realise the ramifications of your statements, and instead, work to create a better, more tolerant world.

May I remind you that Israel even recognises same-sex marriages performed in countries that have marriage equality? They do not share your words of hate.

Alas, you have contributed to the same persecution towards homosexuals. By claiming homosexuality is something that needs treating, you’re telling anyone that is struggling with their sexuality as I did, that they are broken. They are garbage.

People that may already be standing on the precipice before the abyss, vulnerable and afraid, suddenly being publicly told by someone who is supposed to be a respectable, compassionate, spiritual leader – possibly now pushed over the edge by your words.

People that have hatred, intolerance and bigotry, now may be empowered by your words of hate as they justify the brutality and violence they inflict on the afore-mentioned vulnerable people.

Your words are damaging. You personally could well have blood on your hands.

I hope you can appreciate my words and work to try and repair some of the damage you have caused.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Docking