June 25th, 2009 Posted by: Erika Solomon
Although thousands of Israelis participated in Jerusalem’s 8th annual gay pride parade, which went off without a hitch, some signs of tension were visible. The parade ended with a small concert organized at a city centre park, which had been surrounded with high fences covered in black mesh.
Despite the cheerful singing and colourful banners, many participants who attend both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s gay pride parades, say the Israeli parade in Jerusalem, a holy city for the religious, is markedly different from a similar parade in the secular coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv, held a couple of weeks ago.
One Israeli marcher said Jerusalem, as a much more politically divided city, has a very politicized pride parade: “In Tel Aviv, the Gay Pride parade is more of a party. But in Jerusalem, it’s much more political, like a protest.” Several marchers echoed this sentiment. Na’ama, a member of Bat-Kol, an organization for Orthodox Jewish lesbians, agreed, adding: “It’s not like a protest-it is a protest. I don’t want to take it for granted that I can walk here. But we also have to fight for other rights, like the right to marry. And we still have a struggle with the rest of the Orthodox community to get them to accept us.”
Across the street from the park, a small cluster of demonstrators gathered to protest the gay pride parade. Most offered rather extreme interpretations of the gravity of allowing the pride parade. Daisy Stern, holding a sign saying “No Flags of Fags Here”, said she was “protesting and fighting this horrible trend that persists in this city, which is funded and masterminded by our enemies who don’t want to see a Jewish land and this is a way to break our spirits”. One student, who joked he was protesting “to be a hardcore fundamentalist”, added: ” I’m not so much against the gay part , I’m protesting the pride part. The bible says homosexuality is an abomination. Only an abominable person would be proud about their homosexuality.” Some held up copies of the Torah, and signs offering help for homosexuals. Read complete article on Reuters Blogs