Israeli police have given the green light for a gay rally in Jerusalem and for religious Jews to demonstrate on the same day against what they consider an outrage, a spokesman said on Thursday. "Police decided to allow a march of homosexuals in the centre of Jerusalem which will finish with a party in a public park," Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
He said police have also authorised a counter-demonstration at the entrance to Jerusalem called for by members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community who consider the Gay Pride event an "abomination" to the sanctity of the holy city. More than 7,000 police officers will be deployed to ensure public security and to avoid disorder next Thursday, the planned day for both the Gay Pride event and the protest, Rosenfeld said.
Late Wednesday, several hundred young religious men demonstrated in the ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim against the imminent Gay Pride rally, throwing stones at police and setting fire to rubbish bins.
One police officer was lightly wounded and four demonstrators arrested, Rosenfeld said. Last year, a much-delayed Gay Pride parade through the streets of Jerusalem was scrapped and instead held under tight security at a stadium after violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews and denunciations by other religious leaders.
The year before, an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed and wounded three participants during a 2005 Gay Pride event and was later jailed for 12 years.