Daily Israel Report

Israeli Homosexuals Hope to March Into Politics

Israeli homosexuals are organizing a new political party. The first fight: the battle to march in the streets of Jerusalem.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 6/1/2007, 9:59 AM

Israeli homosexuals, frustrated by their lack of clout in the government, have decided to launch the “Magi” party, Hebrew for the Israel Gays Party, in time to run for seats in the next Knesset election.

The plan came in response to the success of the hareidi-religious community in blocking last year’s “Pride Parade” in Jerusalem, and a proposed bill designed to bar events in the capital that could offend or incite residents.

The ‘Gay Pride Bill’, proposed by MK Eliahu Gabbai (NRP/NU) would authorize the city to “bar parades and processions on the grounds that they disturb public order, offend the public’s sentiments or on religious grounds.”

Tourism Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beitenu) supported the bill, as did two Kadima ministers, Yaakov Edery and Gideon Ezra. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann opposed the proposal.

The bill was proposed after a “Pink Jerusalem” campaign was launched by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Homosexuals and Lesbians organization to attract tourists from that sector to Jerusalem. Reportedly the Ministry of Tourism was also involved in producing the campaign, which featured provocative photos of homosexual couples at various tourist sites in the city.

Tourism Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, however, hastened to deny responsibility for the campaign, saying it was designed by Avraham Hirschson, who recently resigned as Finance Minister due to allegations of embezzlement in a past position. Minister Aharonovitch said he did not agree with Hirschson’s decision. According to Knesset Member Benny Elon (NU/NRP), the Tourism Minister has told his office to discontinue the campaign.

The issue of homosexual demonstrations, parades and other activities in Judaism’s holiest city has become a focal point for mass protests by the religious Jewish sector. Strong public opposition by Islamic clergy has added additional fuel to the public’s furor over public displays of homosexuality in Jerusalem.

The city of Tel Aviv, in contrast, has embraced homosexual tourism, offering last year to host the “Pride Parade” when it became clear that Jerusalem residents would not tolerate it.