gay pride protest 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The heads of three prominent Jerusalem-based Christian organizations on Tuesday lambasted plans to hold the World Pride international gay parade in the city this summer, and urged Israeli authorities to reconsider allowing the controversial event to take place.
"It is clear that Jerusalem has been deliberately targeted not because it has any particular significance to the gay and lesbian community, but because of the supreme importance this city holds for those of biblical faith.
"The decision to hold this event in Jerusalem can only be seen as a calculated and confrontational act meant to provoke and offend those who adhere to timeless, biblical moral standards in the very place they hold most dear," a joint statement by the heads of the three Evangelical Christian organizations stated.
The statement was cosigned by Bridges for Peace, Christian Friends of Israel, and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
Despite widespread city opposition, World Pride organizers reiterated Tuesday that they are determined to hold the international event in Jerusalem in seven weeks time, setting the stage for a major showdown in the city this summer.
"The World Pride event will take place in Jerusalem because we believe Jerusalem should be a center of tolerance, pluralism and humanity. Unfortunately, there are those who prefer Jerusalem to be fanatical, dark, pursuing strife and hatred," said Noa Sattath, chairperson of Jerusalem's Gay and Lesbian Center which is hosting the event.
The planned week-long international gay festival, which was originally scheduled to take place last year but was postponed due to last summer's concomitant Gaza pullout, has been widely criticized by a coterie of conservative Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders in Jerusalem and around the world as a deliberate affront and provocation.
A public opinion poll released last year found that three-quarters of Jerusalem residents were opposed to holding the event in the city, while only a quarter supported it.
The last international gay parade, which took place in Rome in 2000 despite the wrath of the Vatican, attracted about half a million participants. Local organizers expect tens of thousands of revelers for the Jerusalem event this summer.
The six-day event is slated to include street parties, workshops and a gay film festival.