Gay Parade 311.
(photo credit: Sarah Levin)
The Moscow Patriarchate has slammed the existence of gaypride events in
Jerusalem, in an attack that actually appears to indicate criticism of internal
Over the course of a meeting between the Synodal
Department for External Church Relations and AIPAC in Moscow on Tuesday, the
head of the department, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, voiced his
“regret” over the public acts of “homosexual minorities in the Holy
Gay opposition rises against Israel Apartheid Week
“Israel claims to be a secular state, but unfortunately this claim
has often led to disregard for the feelings of believers, not only those of
Judaism, but also other religions,” Hilarion was quoted by the official Website
of the Department of External Church Relations as saying.
“In the Russian
Church, we felt regret at the reports about holding the so-called ‘pride
parades’ of homosexual minorities in the Holy City. We are convinced that only
traditional morality can be a solid support for the life of society and
relations between people,” Hilarion continued. “This is why it is so necessary
to have dialogue between religious communities, the state and all the public
forces so that its results could be lived up in the order of the
The Moscow Patriarchate, also known as the Russian Orthodox
Church, is the largest eastern Orthodox church, with an estimated 150 million
Its local representatives were part of the religious leaders
from the three Abrahamic creeds who united against the 10-day World Pride events
planned for the summer of 2005 in Jerusalem – which were postponed for one year
due to the Gaza disengagement.
While low key, gay-pride events take place
in the capital to varying degrees of orthodox objection. There are no concrete
plans yet for a parade this summer in Jerusalem.
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Still, Christian expert
Dr. Amnon Ramon of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, suggested
that the Patriarchate’s anti-gay sentiment might be more an expression of
internal Russian matters in the wake of recent rising tensions between the gay
community in Moscow and the church.
Last October the European Court of
Human Rights decreed that Moscow was acting against the law by preventing
gay-pride marches in the city. Moscow gay-pride marches have been held since
2006, but are banned by authorities.
The recent court ruling will most
likely force the city to allow the upcoming march, scheduled for the end of
Vadim Kvyatkovsky, curator of the Council of Youth Orthodox
Organizations in Russia, told Moscow News following the court ruling that
religious groups would do what they could to prevent gay-pride
While the local rabbinic institution refrained from commenting on
the topic, an Israeli government official said of the Moscow Patriarchate’s
statement that “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, which combines the
tradition of respecting human rights and modern values.”
director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance noted the diversity
of Jerusalem, as well as the violence facing LGBT members in
“While extreme religious leaders in each of the three faiths, who
consider Jerusalem a holy city, would like to see a Jerusalem like the one
described now by the Russian Patriarchate – the majority of the practitioners of
these faiths envision a Jerusalem that celebrates its diversity,” said Yonatan
Gehr, in response to the Moscow announcement.
“The Jerusalem Open House
conducts Jerusalem Pride and works on behalf of this constituency around the
world to assure that Jerusalem continues to be a city welcoming all people of
all colors, faiths, nationalities, sexes and sexual and gender identities. A
city truly worth praying towards.
“I would hope the Russian Patriarchate
instead focus on the sanctity of human life – a message very much needed in the
streets of Moscow, considering the brutal violence that meets the local LGBT
community during the Moscow Pride March,” Gehr added.
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