Israel’s pared-down pride

Israel’s pared-down pride

Fears of violence at a Jerusalem gay protest branded a disgrace by religious leaders were allayed when organisers replaced the planned street march with a scaled-down rally at a stadium last week.

Participants in the controversial gay pride event moved the event to the sports stadium last Friday amid a series of protests by conservatives and concerns Palestinian attacks against Israel could target a street march.

The pride event, which sparked criticism and counter-protests from Jerusalem religious authorities, was originally planned as a street protest. Organisers agreed to move the event after a request from authorities.

About 4,000 people gathered for the pride parade at the sports stadium, as about 3,000 riot police surrounded the venue, BBC News reported.

There were no reports of violence at the event. Police had feared Palestinian attacks could target a gay street march in retaliation for Israeli shelling in Gaza that killed 18 civilians earlier in the week.

At a similar demonstration last year an anti-gay Orthodox Jewish man stabbed three participants.

In the lead-up to last Friday’s event, Jerusalem religious leaders called it a disgrace and the Vatican said it would offend religious sensibilities.

Israel’s first openly gay parliamentarian, Uzi Even, said the opposition to the pride rally showed Israel was being dragged back into the dark world of religion, Associated Press reported.

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