Moscow Patriarchate speaks out against J'lem gay pride

In a meeting with AIPAC, religious leader says he "felt regret" over "pride parades of homosexual minorities in the Holy City."

April 7, 2011 15:16
3 minute read.
Past events. Three men were stabbed at the 2005 parade and the 2006 march was held in the Givat Ram

Gay Parade 311. (photo credit: Sarah Levin)


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The Moscow Patriarchate has slammed the existence of gaypride events in Jerusalem, in an attack that actually appears to indicate criticism of internal Russian affairs.

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 City.”

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“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 society.”

The Moscow Patriarchate, also known as the Russian Orthodox Church, is the largest eastern Orthodox church, with an estimated 150 million members.

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.

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 May.

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 events.

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.”

The executive director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance noted the diversity of Jerusalem, as well as the violence facing LGBT members in Moscow.

“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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