Ex-Chief Rabbi attacks gay pride march

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A controversial ultra-orthodox Israeli Rabbi has joined protests against the WorldPride march in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas political party and former Sephardic Chief Rabbi, has given his backing to the rally against the parade describing it as “filth.”

A demonstration is to be held today “against the sodomizing Amalek filth parade, who seek to defile the holy city,” Ynet News reports.

Rabbi Yosef is known for his controversial views, at the last Israeli election he told the electorate that they would go to the Garden of Eden if they vote for his party, or to hell if they don’t.

Last month, the Jerusalem police, State Prosecution, the Jerusalem Municipality and gay rights groups agreed that a gay pride march could take place on November 10.

Right-wing extremist Baruch Marzel said in response, “There will be a holy war against [the parade]. We will do everything to disrupt the parade.”

Yitzhak Weiss, a journalist and spokesman for Edah Haredit, the ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist rabbinic organisation based in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post that the parade should be prevented in the name of peace.

“Holding the parade in Jerusalem empties the title ‘Holy City of the Jews’ of all meaning,” said Weiss. “Imagine having such a parade in the Vatican or in Mecca. No one is trying to deprive them of their rights or tell them what to do in their own homes.”

The Jerusalem Municipality will coordinate the necessary preparation for the event with organisers and the Jerusalem police overseeing security.

Jerusalem Open House and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned the High Court on September 10, after police failed to answer a letter by the gay advocacy organization offering six different dates on which to hold the parade and asking the police to choose what was most convenient for them.

The six dates that Open House suggested all fell before the High Holy Days. In response to the petition, the police said they were stretched too thin to provide security for the parade until after the Jewish holidays and the month long Muslim fast of Ramadan. Noa Satath, Open House director-general, told YNet News that the group turned to the High Court “to secure the right to freedom of expression for the community in Jerusalem, and in order to receive a final date.”

Open House originally intended to hold an international gay parade in August. However, it called it off, of its own accord, because of the conflict in Lebanon.

At the same time, it announced it would hold its regular annual parade on September 21. The police, however, refused to grant a permit for that date on the grounds that it wasn’t “suitable.”