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A controversial international gay pride parade that was slated to take place in Jerusalem next month has been canceled due to the war in the north, the organizers of the event said Sunday.
The contested parade, which was to have been the highlight of a week-long international gay festival in the capital, was nixed due to the security situation in the country, and the fact that police would not be able to allocate sufficient forces needed to secure such a major event, said Hagai El-Ad, the Executive-Director of Jerusalem's Gay and Lesbian Center, which is hosting the event.
He added that the festival's other smaller indoor events, including a film festival and workshops, would take place as scheduled.
The organizer's dramatic decision to cancel the event for the second year in a row was made after police let organizers know that they could not allow the event to take place due to the current security situation in the country, and came amidst mounting concerns over violence at the event.
The planned international gay festival, which was originally scheduled to take place last year and had been postponed until August due to last summer's Gaza pullout, has been widely criticized by a coterie of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Jerusalem and around the world as a deliberate affront and provocation to millions of believers around the world.
Supporters of the event countered that freedom of speech enables them to hold the event in Jerusalem, as a symbol of tolerance and pluralism.
Even before the war broke out in the north, police - who have the prerogative for issuing such public events -- have been deliberating for weeks whether to ban the parade due to concerns over public safety, with the violence affording both sides an easy way out, officials said.
Despite the cancellation of the parade, the strongest opponents of the event said Sunday that they were determined to stop all the festival's events, including those that were being held indoors.
"This is not a significant victory for those who want Jerusalem to be a moral haven, and to have one week of militant homosexual activities in the city is not acceptable," said New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Orthodox 'Rabbinical Alliance of America' and the 'Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the US and Canada' who has been spearheading an international campaign against the event.
In a largely conservative city, with a strong religious and traditional makeup, the idea of holding such an international parade in Jerusalem is seen by many city residents -- even outside of religious circles -- as out of touch with both the spiritual character of the city as well as the sensitivities of its observant residents.
A public opinion poll released last year found that three-quarters of Jerusalem residents were opposed to holding the international gay 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, while local organizers expect tens of thousands of revelers for the Jerusalem event this summer.
The curtailed six-day event will include workshops and a gay film festival.
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