Court Rules in Favor of Gays, Against City

Once again, a court has ruled against the Jerusalem municipality and in favor of the capital's homo-lesbian community, providing impetus for this summer's scheduled int'l gay pride event there.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 13:54

Jerusalem District Court Judge Yehudit Tzur ruled that the city had set discriminatory standards in its cultural funding practices, thus enabling itself to avoid giving money to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. Judge Tzur ordered the municipality to pay 350,000 shekels (close to $80,000) to cover its lack of payments for the years 2003-2005.

"Even if certain officials in the municipality have trouble accepting the homo-lesbian community," Tzur wrote, "and feel that it is an undesirable phenomenon, the city cannot stray the basic values of the legal system and ignore this community. It must treat this community in an egalitarian manner, out of a recognition of the senior status of the value of equality, and with respect for the values of tolerance and pluralism."

Last year as well, the Jerusalem municipality lost a court case to the Open House, and was forced not only to approve a Gay Pride parade in its streets, but also to pay for it.

The Open House is organizing this summer's scheduled World Pride event in Jerusalem, in which thousands of people from around the world are expected to take part. The quadrennial week-long event, set for Aug. 6-12, was to have been held in Jerusalem last summer, but was postponed because of Israel's retreat from Gaza.

Several hotels are providing a special World Pride hotel rate for the six-night stay. The Jerusalem hotels listed on the event's website are the Inbal, Sheraton Plaza, Prima Royale, Gloria, Jerusalem Inn, Jerusalem Tower, and Agron hostel.

Objections to the march have been sounded from various quarters, including the Chief Rabbis and women's groups. No concrete steps have yet been taken to stop it, however.

On the other hand, spokesmen for Israel's Conservative movement, Rabbis Ehud Bandel and Andrew Sachs, expressed support last year for the right to hold the Gay Pride event in Jerusalem, although they indicated that this did not indicate their movement's endorsement of the event itself.

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel's former Chief Rabbi and a possible candidate for Israel's next President, said a few days ago that same-sex couples present not only "Haliakhic [Jewish legal] problems," but also, "speaking from a national and human standpoint, it pains me to see that an abnormal way of life is replacing the family unit. I fear the rising violence, both among the general public and within the family unit.”

Earlier this month, 500 people marched in a Gay Pride event in Eilat, replacing a similar event that had been scheduled for Tel Aviv but was canceled.

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