By MATTHEW WAGNER
The Edah Haredit is planning a major demonstration in the next week against a Gay Pride Parade slated to take place in Jerusalem on June 21.
"There will be strong opposition to those sinners' intention to desecrate the holy city," said Shmuel Popenheim, a spokesman for the Edah Haredit, a coalition of Hassidic courts such as Satmar and Toldot Yitzhak, and Lithuanian families who share a strong adherence to ultra-Orthodoxy and opposition to Zionism.
"If they insist on flaunting themselves we will be forced to come out in force against them," Popenheim said.
The Jerusalem Open House has organized a Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem every June since 2002 except for last year, when massive opposition launched by haredim and Zionist modern Orthodox activists delayed the event until November, where it was held on Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus. Ostensibly, the Open House's attempt to turn the 2006 parade into an international event sparked the increased opposition. However, 2005's parade was marred by a stabbing incident.
Yishai Schlissel, 30, from Kiryat Sefer was convicted of attempted murder for stabbing and lightly-to-moderately wounding three parade participants.
Noa Sattath, the Open House's executive director, said, "We have the right to demonstrate and we also respect the right of the haredi community to demonstrate. We just hope that they adhere to the rules of democracy."
There is some disagreement among Orthodox groups over the best way to confront the prospect of a Gay Pride Parade in the heart of the Jewish people's holiest city.
While the Edah Haredit's Rabbi Moshe Sternbach and other leading rabbis, both haredi and religious Zionist, advocate an aggressive public campaign against the event, others, include Rabbi Ya'acov Aryeh Alter, the Gerrer rebbe, call to ignore the parade altogether.
Alter and others fear the adverse impact of an anti-Gay campaign on haredi youth, who are not supposed to be acquainted with the reality of unorthodox sexual preferences.
Popenheim said the Edah considered the Gerrer Rebbe's approach but in the end rejected it.
"We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and pretend that it does not exist. To our sorrow, today children are exposed to these things."
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