Police consider cancelling WorldPride amid anti-gay protests

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Jerusalem police will decide this week whether to allow WorldPride to take place in the city amid outrage from religious groups and politicians in Israel.

The event scheduled for this August has strangely united religious Jews, Christians and Muslims, who have spoken put against the parade and are arranging a counter “Modesty Parade.”

A decision on the ban will be taken by Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter at a meeting dedicated to the issue on Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post reports.

The event has been plagued with opposition from groups aiming to boycott it because of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, and from rabbis and imams.

Most recently, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar wrote to Pope Benedict XVI asking for his condemnation, he said: “We ask your Excellency to issue an emotional, strong, and unequivocal call against this horrible phenomenon, in the hope that the amalgamation of protests being voiced by religious leaders… will prevent the willful wrongdoers to damage and corrupt the ways of humanity.”

Last week Israeli politician, Otniel Schneller, of Israel’s strongest coalition, Kadima party was criticised by fellow members after stating that planned visits by gay groups would turn the Knesset (parliament) into “Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Alan Bolchover, chief executive of the New Israel Fund said the Member of the Knesset (MK) should get out more, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “It’s sad that an MK of the governing party is so out of touch with his humanity, but its at least heartening that another has stepped in to slap him down.

“Maybe Mr Schneller should get out of his office a bit more and walk down the corridor, because a Knesset committee on Lesbian and Gay Rights was founded way back in 1993.”

New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who is organising the counter religious parade two days prior to WorldPride, said: “This is not the homo-land, this is the Holy Land,”

Representatives from the organisers of Jerusalem World Pride, AGUDAH marched at last weekend’s EuroPride event in London, a spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk: “It’s great to be here.

“We are excited to be hosting World Pride and are applying for EuroPride in 2009 for Tel Aviv.

The UK Coordinator of World Pride, told PinkNews.co.uk in reaction to calls for the abandonment of the event, “World Pride 2006 is a call for freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to be different, and tolerance. It seeks to embrace diversity, and is adamant that it will address and raise awareness of all forms of discrimination and injustice.

“We hope others will see their own specific struggles reflected in the struggle of LGBT people around the world and come and participate in this rallying cry for peace.”

The last World Pride was held in 2000 in Rome, with the disapproval of the Vatican.

Jerusalem WorldPride runs from August 6-12 2006.