First-Ever 'Gay Pride' Parade In Jerusalem

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israel's homosexual community is holding its first ever "gay pride" parade in Jerusalem on Friday, prompting an outcry from the city's ultra-Orthodox religious community.

There have been such events before in Tel Aviv but not in Jerusalem, Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

It was not clear how many participants there would be but the parade was expected to be about an hour long, he added, and it will wind through the city's center.

Some ultra-Orthodox Israelis have pledged to disrupt the event.

"Beyond the injury to the holiness of Jerusalem, which is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, and beyond the injury to the morals and the sacred values of the people of Israel, from generation to generation, which safeguarded the concept of family life, we are also liable to find ourselves in danger perhaps parallel to that of African nations infested with the AIDS virus," Ultra-Orthodox Shas legislator Nissim Ze'ev said in a radio interview this week.

Ze'ev compared the practice of homosexuality to "a pig or an idol in the Temple," which is anathema according to Jewish law as written in the Bible.

"We must uproot this filth from our midst," he said. Hagai Elad, director of the homosexual community's Open House in Jerusalem, was quoted as saying that he believed there was "no contradiction between the sanctity of the city and the Pride Parade."

He said there would be religious homosexuals marching in the parade. "Many of the participants in the parade are the city's daughters and sons. They grew up here; they are equal citizens."

Jerusalem's Mayor Ehud Olmert reportedly tried to convince the organizers to hold the event in Tel Aviv, as they have done previously. In the end, he was forced to consent for legal reasons, but he refused to fund the parade, prompting organizers to petition the High Court. The decision is pending.