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Israel parliament votes to kill Gay Pride in Jerusalem

“A double-sided sword has been turned toward the community. The Knesset is crazy, with a crazy government where the tyranny of the majority is more important than human rights.”
Zahava Gal-On of the Meretz party, the only bloc to oppose the discriminatory bills.

“This is a dangerous bill, which could damage the bedrock of Israel’s democratic principles because of narrow political interests. We will continue to fight it in parliament and through the Gay Pride Parade…I feel that we and democracy in general are being harassed.”
Noa Sattath, chairperson of  LGBT org Jerusalem Open House, the principal organizer of the Gay Pride march

Right-wing zealots in Israel’s Knesset passed two bills to ban the upcoming Pride celebration, which is slated for June 21. The nature of these bills is frightening in their scope — banning not only Pride, in one case, but any public event that “offends the public.”

Doug Ireland has the story.

Both bills were introduced by ultra-right religious parties. One bill — introduced by a Uri_lupolyansky deputy from the right-wing National Religious Party, a Zionist party associated with the Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories — amends the Basic Law on Jerusalem to  “enable the Jerusalem municipal council to ban parades and rallies in town for considerations of disturbance to public order, offending the public’s sensitivities or for religious considerations,” the Israeli news agency YNet reports. It passed on first reading by 40-23. Jerusalem is currently led by ultra-Orthodox Mayor Uri Lupolyansky.

The second bill, introduced by deputies from Shas — an ultra-conservative party representing hyper-Orthodox Sephardic and Misrahi Jews — “is more comprehensive and calls for a ban on pride parades throughout the country.” This bill also passed on first reading by 41-21.

Israel is in the midst of a presidential election, and all of the candidates missed the vote because of the fear of roiling the religious members of the Knesset, whose support they need to win. (Sound familiar?).

Sadly, even the Prime Minister, who has reason to support Pride, isn’t completely on board.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – who has a daughter who is openly lesbian – said that he did not believe Jerusalem was the “natural place” for the Gay Pride Parade because of the city’s “special sensitivity.” But while refusing to support the banning bills, Olmert “also declined to direct the coalition on how to vote on the bill, giving all the coalition members freedom of vote.


Other Pride news — Russia and Latvia

Russia’s still reeling from last week’s violence against gay activists and pols occurred at a rally for Gay Pride parade in Moscow last week. British gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell and Right Said Fred singer Richard Fairbrass were among those attacked by the anti-gay thugs.

Rex Wockner has an interesting post about a happier, more hopeful time in Russia:

You may think the disastrous attempts to stage gay pride parades in Moscow last year and this year were the beginning of gay activism in Russia. Some people called last year’s mêlée Russia’s “Stonewall.” In reality, Russia’s Stonewall-ish thing took place in 1991, in Moscow and Leningrad, in the then-Soviet Union. And I was there.

Surf over to read Rex’s article from 1991; he includes plenty of photos of the first-ever Pride events held in the then-Soviet Union. Nearly 20,000 people took part in events that were held in Moscow and Leningrad, including a film festival that attracted 16,000 people.

In contrast to the horrors in Russia last week, this year Latvia experienced a relatively peaceful Pride celebration, albeit under heavy security. The homophobes decided the best course of action was to hold a counter “celebration.”

At the same time as the parade, more than 1,000 people attended a “World Against Homosexuality” concert in another part of town. Many attendees signed an anti-gay petition and were rewarded with a T-shirt showing two male stick figures engaging in rear-entry anal sex with the international circle-and-slash “no” symbol superimposed on top of them.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding