Gay Pride in the Holy City
Gay pride activitsts scored a significant victory this week as the Jerusalem police gave a last minute thumbs up to parade through the streets this coming week.
Long hoping to march through Jerusalem, the parade was canceled last year due to raised security concerns resulting from the war with Hezbullah. In the fall, instead of a parade a Gay Pride event was held in a stadium just outside Jerusalem under tight security.
There is much controversy in Israeli society over Gay Pride parades and the ultra-religious Jewish communities in Jerusalem are vehemently opposed to allowing the march to occur here.
The annual local parade, which draws several thousand participants every year, has been the source of repeated debate, with many religious city councillors and a not insignificant number of largely-traditional city residents considering such an event inappropriate for a "holy" city.
Supporters of the parade counter that freedom of speech enables them to hold the event in Jerusalem, as a symbol of tolerance and pluralism, even if theirs is the view of the minority of residents in the city. An annual gay pride parade takes place in Tel Aviv. A recent bill pending final authorization in the Knesset, which was put forward by two religious MKs, would give the Jerusalem Municipality the right to ban such events.
The extremist ultra-religious right wing plans to demonstrate against the proposed event on Sunday. Organizers estimate that as many as 100,000 people will attend according to a report in The Jerusalem Post.
Small isolated protests against the decision to allow the parade to occur took place in religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem on Wednesday night following the police announcement.
More than 7,000 police officers will be deployed to ensure the safety of the marchers.
In 2005, at a Gay Pride event in Jerusalem an ultra-orthodox Jew stabbed and wounded three marchers.