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V 35 Issue 26

 
 
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Jerusalem Gay Pride defies fundamentalist threats - Israeli Supreme Court rejects bid to ban Gay march
Jerusalem Gay Pride defies fundamentalist threats - Israeli Supreme Court rejects bid to ban Gay march
Jerusalem Gay Pride defies fundamentalist threats - Israeli Supreme Court rejects bid to ban Gay march by Peter Tatchell - Special to the SGN LONDON, June 21 2007 -- "We applaud the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to reject an application to ban the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade," said Brett Lock, spokesperson for the London-based LGBTI human rights group, OutRage!

He was commenting on the court judgement, ahead of today's Gay Pride march.

"This is a big victory, not only for Gay rights but also for the right to protest of all Israelis - Gay and straight, Jew and Arab," added Mr Lock.

"The judges' refusal to succumb to threats of violence by homophobic Jewish fundamentalists is a gain for all Israelis who cherish freedom and liberty.

"The fundamentalists had been given official encouragement by the deplorable vote in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, which sought to ban Gay Pride marches.

"This bigoted and dangerous restriction on the right to freedom of expression was carried on its first reading in early June by 41 votes to 21. It was backed by a cowardly, bigoted alliance of religious and right-wing parties, led by Shas and the National Religious Party.

Also backing the Gay Pride ban was the President-elect and former Labour Prime Minister, Shimon Peres. The left-wing Meretz party was the only political grouping to robustly oppose the draconian new legislation.

"Fortunately, the legislation was not ratified in time to halt Jerusalem Gay Pride. Following the Supreme Court decision, it is now unlikely to reach the statute books.

"We are troubled that attempts to ban Jerusalem Gay Pride received such widespread, cross-party support in the Israeli parliament. We hope the Supreme Court decision will put the brakes on these attempts to outlaw Gay marches.

"The increased right-wing religious influence in Israel's parliament is extremely bad news for Gay rights and for the prospect of peace in the Middle East and justice for the Palestinian people.

"We condemn the recent anti-Gay riots by Orthodox Jews and their blood-curdling incitements to attack the Gay Pride marchers," said Mr Lock.

Jerusalem's Gay Pride march went ahead today, Thursday, June 21.

Despite the presence of 7,000 police officers, some Jewish fundamentalist protesters infiltrated the route. A group of ultra-religious teenage girls screamed "disgrace, disgrace" at the 5,000 Gay Pride marchers.

At least 19 Judaist fanatics were arrested during the parade, including one man who poured oil on the march route, and several people who waded in and assaulted several marchers.

Police also arrested an ultra-Orthodox Jew carrying a home-made bomb.

The Israeli Supreme Court rejected three petitions against the Gay Pride march. The petitions argued that the march would offend the sensibilities of religious believers. They were submitted by Trade Minister Eli Yishai of Shas, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, and Hebron Jewish activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Trade Minister Yishai argued that the homosexual march is a "vulgar event that offends and violates the sanctity of Jerusalem." He said that in approving the parade, the police had not given sufficient weight to the "offence caused to the sensibilities of the hareidi public."

The Marzel-Ben-Gvir petition submitted that the Gay Pride march "would lead to public disturbances and riots on an unprecedented scale."

Deputy Supreme Court President Eliezer Rivlin, Justice Ayala Procaccia and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote in their judgement:

"Authorizing the Gay Pride parade allows for the realization of the right to expression and demonstration . It allows the marchers to voice their message by virtue of their right for equality and social recognition. Additionally, the permit affords deserving priority to the principle of the rule of law, and to the perception that violence is not to be rewarded nor succumbed to."

In the week before the Gay Pride march took place the Orthodox Righteous Court of Law (Badatz) placed a curse on the parade's organizers and participants and on police officers tasked with protecting the march.

Prominent Orthodox rabbis published a declaration which read: "To all those involved, sinners in spirit, and whoever helps and protects them, may they feel a curse on their souls, may it plague them and may evil pursue them; they will not be acquitted of their transgressions from heavenly judgment."

In previous years, Jerusalem Gay Pride marchers have been violently attacked by both Jewish and Muslim religious fundamentalists.

At the 2005 march, an ultra-Orthodox believer stabbed and wounded three marchers. Last year, fears of violence from fundamentalists led to the march being moved from the city centre to a sports stadium in a distant suburb.

Peter Tatchell's campaigns to promoting human rights, democracy and global justice. To support his efforts, visit http://www.petertatchell.net.

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