A bill before Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, aims to allow the authorities in the city of Jerusalem to ban gay Pride parades – but activists are fighting back.

Many of the country’s Orthodox Religious leaders have, for years, attempted to block Pride in Jerusalem on the basis that is it a uniquely “holy city,” and that this is incompatible with homosexuality.

Speaking in support of the bill during a debate on the legislation, Nissim Ze’ev, a member of the religious Shas Party, told a Knesset committee that homosexuality was an epidemic like bird flu and should be dealt with by the health ministry.

He said that gays and lesbians were similar to drug addicts and should be rehabilitated, and further described LGBT people as a “plague that may destroy Jewish Israel.”

In response, activists from Jerusalem Open House have protested outside Ze’ev’s home, and the residence of another homophobic MP, Eliahu Gabbay. Placards decried the men for attempting to “…outlaw the citizens’ right to march and protest on the streets of Jerusalem.”

Activists say that matter is not just of concern to gays and lesbians, but a general human and civil rights issue affecting all citizens.

The city’s previous Pride events have been embroiled in controversy and have faced violent protests. In 2006 three Pride participants were stabbed by a protestor.

The following year, rioting by religious extremists led to the event being cancelled, while at last year’s parade, a man with a small bomb was arrested by police. It is believed that he was intending to target the participants in the march.

The 2008 Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance March is scheduled to take place in June.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend