Proudly political

At least 10,000 people are expected to participate in the WorldPride March.

gay parade injer 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
gay parade injer 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Earlier this week, representatives of the Jerusalem Open House convened a press conference to provide information and respond to questions regarding the upcoming WorldPride March in Jerusalem planned for August 10. In her statement, Noa Sattath, chairperson of the Open House, emphasized what she referred to as the religious goals of the march. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, she said, "has been alienated from religion... We want to reclaim religion and Jerusalem. We are here to say that we have an equal part in religion." Sattath said that, like previous WorldPride Marches, such as the March in Rome in 2000, the Jerusalem event is expected to attract "participants from faith-based backgrounds." Although data is still unavailable, she anticipates that a majority of the participants will be Jewish, due to "the special connection with Jerusalem." Referring to Jerusalem as "a frontier," Sattath added that "Jerusalem is where the LGBT struggle is most prominent." At the same time, organizers said that they are "aware of the sensitivity of the choice of locale and the worries of the residents of Jerusalem." "We will adjust the march to the nature of the city. We are not here to provoke," commented Sattath. At least 10,000 people are expected to participate in the march, but because there is no pre-registration, exact numbers remain unknown. However, Sattath said that, to their knowledge, participants have reserved rooms in Jerusalem hotels. The Open House is not intending to organize or provide home hospitality for participants coming from abroad. While the march itself is attracting the most attention, it is only one element in a full week of events taking place primarily in Jerusalem. The exact route of the march is still under negotiation with the police, but it will be held in a city-center location, most probably a park, and will be confined to the main streets of Jerusalem. The route will not, Sattath promised, go through east Jerusalem, come close to the holy sites, nor enter religious neighborhoods. Sattath said that the scheduled event should be seen as a march, not a parade. "A parade is more festive and less participatory, while a march is political," she explained. Commenting that she hopes that the march will contribute to freedom of speech, pluralism and tolerance in Jerusalem, Sattath also said that she is "very sorry and disappointed that religious leaders went from discussion to violent incitement." In response to the threats against marchers, Sattath would only say that she and the Jerusalem Open House "continue to have faith in the Jerusalem police forces to protect them during any incident of violence. We are confident that they will work hard as always to protect freedom of speech in Jerusalem."