Anti WorldPride petition gathers momentum

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Another day, another addition to the sea of protest surrounding WorldPride’s decision to hold this year’s event in the city of Jerusalem.

Currently an online petition opposing the event is hovering around the 100,000 signature mark. It’s organisers are confident that this target will soon be reached.

In a rare moment of accord between the major world religions, the event has been universally condemned. The pope added his voice to those of Israel’s chief rabbis, and Islamic leaders.

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 wilful wrongdoers to damage and corrupt the ways of humanity.”

An Arab member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), Ibrahim Sarsur, said: “If gays will dare approach the Temple Mount during the parade, they will do so over our dead bodies.”

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch of the ultra-orthodox Beth Din (religious court) said: “this parade poses a real threat to the citizens of Israel.”

It was reported last week by the Israeli online news website, YNet, that police concerns may force the event to be moved to Tel Aviv.

The Trade and Labour Minister Eli Yishai said that there was “an issue of freedom of expression, but on the other hand there is also the public’s benefit.” He said that he supported the idea of moving it to another city because “leaders of the three religions are against it.”

The event has provoked heated debate and heart-felt opinions from both sides. As the anti-petition’s numbers swell each hour, voices supporting the event speak up on websites and message boards. Avi from Jerusalem, for example, writes; “I think the point is that there are a lot of homosexuals out there who are being terrorised by their communities. The Gay pride shows them that there are others too who are of the same inclination and it is nothing to be ashamed of.”

The UK Coordinator of World Pride, told 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.”