US Supreme Court allows Jewish university to deny LGBTQ group

Yeshiva University turned to the top court for an urgent ruling after a state judge said it should register Pride Alliance as a student association.

A gay pride flag waves during a protest
LGBTQ students formed Pride Alliance and sought formal recognition as a student association so they could organise lectures and hold meetings [File: Ann Wang/Reuters]

The US Supreme Court has granted temporary permission for an Orthodox Jewish university in New York to deny official recognition to an LGBTQ student group.

Yeshiva University turned to the court for an urgent ruling after a New York state judge said the school had to let the Pride Alliance register as a student association, which would give it access to certain facilities and services.

“As a deeply religious Jewish university, Yeshiva cannot comply with that order because doing so would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to form its undergraduate students in Torah values,” the university stated in its appeal.

The university, however, offers many classes on subjects other than religion and has non-Jews among its student body, the Pride Alliance argued in response.

“It may not deny certain students access to the non-religious resources it offers the entire student community on the basis of sexual orientation,” the alliance said.

On Friday, the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, granted an emergency request by the university, suspending the state judge’s decision pending further deliberation.

As is often the case in emergency rulings, the court did not give the reasoning behind its decision or a breakdown of the vote on it.

Religious rights

Yeshiva University was founded more than 100 years ago to promote the study of Judaism and has a student body of about 5,000. But it also gives degrees in a variety of non-religious areas such as biology or accounting.

In 2018, a group of LGBTQ students formed YU Pride Alliance and sought formal recognition as a student association so they could organise lectures and hold meetings, among other activities.

The clash is part of a broader debate in the United States on striking a balance between religious rights and the principles of non-discrimination.

The Supreme Court, which turned sharply to the right under the presidency of Donald Trump, has in recent months issued several rulings in favour of religious rights.

Source: AFP