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Gay Pride March Controversy Awakens Again

The organizers of the gay pride parade in Jerusalem have chosen the day before Rosh HaShanah Eve for their rescheduled march - but the police say no. The matter may go to court.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 9/3/2006, 5:47 PM / Last Update: 9/3/2006, 1:49 PM

The Jerusalem Open House (JOH) originally planned the international event - at which thousands of homosexuals were to march provocatively through Jerusalem's streets - for last month. However, heavy public pressure was brought to bear by Jewish, Moslem and Christian groups, both religious and secular, and the police appeared to be on the brink of canceling it. The JOH then took the initiative, calling it off "as a result of the current hostilities in the region," but promising to reschedule it at a later date.

The later date was set last week: Sept. 21, the day before the eve of the holiest period on the Jewish calendar - the High Holidays. The police, however, said that such timing would be overly provocative, and refused to issue the requested permit for that date.

The police added that they also could not afford the man-hours that would be needed to maintain security at the event during such a sensitive time.

JOH leaders said the police were merely giving excuses, and promised to take the matter to court.

Andrew Friedman, writing for Ynet last week, said he asked JOH head Noa Sattah why the parade is not routed through the Muslim and Christian quarters of Jerusalem. "We don’t want to offend them [the Arabs]," she explained, to which Friedman responded, “But many Jews are also offended by the march. Seems to me that means you are careful not to offend Arab residents, but feel it is your right to offend Jewish ones.” Friedman wrote that Sattah's "silence in response was deafening."

Jerusalem Councilwoman Mina Fenton, who holds the city's Foreign Relations and Jewish heritage portfolios, has written to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Yaakov Edry (Kadima) about the issue. Noting that the police refusal to approve the parade is only "time-related," Fenton wrote,
"The time has come for the national leadership, including the Chief Rabbis, [other] leading rabbis, ministers, Knesset Members and others, to issue an unequivocal statement to the effect that no gay pride parade of any sort may ever take place in the Holy City of Jerusalem."