Jerusalem gays find pride

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It’s been ridiculed, threatened and cancelled three times, but 4,000 members and supporters of Jerusalem’s gay community have managed to pull a rally together today in replacement of a pride march.

The event, held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Givat Ram campus, included performances from Israeli hip-hop group Hadag Nachash, speeches by politicians and religious leaders.

It was moved into a stadium after the ultra-orthodox community launched daily protests against the march. Police decided they could not guarantee safety in the streets, especially while violence was escalating in Gaza.

Around 3000 officers were deployed to protect the rally which is under way now and has already seen religious fanatics chanting anti-gay slogans outside.

Noa Sattath, Executive Director Jerusalem Open House, was keen to point out that the cancellation of the parade did not mean the religious protests were successful, she told “The incitement and violence that have preceded the event turn it into one of the most important civil rights demonstrations of recent years.”

Earlier this year, attempts to hold a parade during WorldPride were quashed because of operations in Lebanon, and the Gaza disengagement a year before also halted proceedings.

Mikie Goldstein, JOH’s European spokesman, told “The Jerusalem Open House feels that it is important to hold a demonstration for LGBT and human rights in Jerusalem at this time, even if security considerations do not allow for a parade.

“The JOH has called upon all people who believe in pluralism and equality to join in the protest rally, showing that violence, both physical and verbal, will not obstruct our lawful demand for civil rights, nor crush our determination to march in our city in the future.”