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Jerusalem ‘gay pride’ festival sparks opposition from Christians, Jews & Muslims

JERUSALEM (BP)–Leaders of three major world religions are uniting in Jerusalem against what one New York rabbi has called “a spiritual rape” of the Holy Land — a homosexual pride festival expected to draw thousands of people from around the world in August.

Christians, Jews and Muslims are speaking out against the festival, which is set to include a parade, film festival, art exhibitions, conferences and parties. A dozen top religious leaders formed a rare alliance March 29 to draft a joint statement urging the Israeli government to stop the festival.

“We are shocked to have received notice that a worldwide assembly of ten days including an immodest parade devoid of minimal propriety is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem this summer, which will offend the very foundations of our religious values and the character of the Holy City,” the leaders said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Such an event would constitute a severe affront to the hearts and souls of adherents of all religions — Jews, Christians and Moslems alike.”

The alliance further called on the Israeli government “and all responsible officials and Israeli police to realize the full implications of their plans and to prohibit any march of this kind, and especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

The event is being organized by the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Coordinators, which organized the first such event held in Rome in 2000.

Pope John Paul II responded at the time by appearing on a balcony over St. Peter’s Square and delivering a message expressing his “bitterness” toward the festival and calling it an “offense to the Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of Catholics across the world,” according to The New York Times.

Israeli police, who are in charge of issuing permits for public events, have said they were considering asking organizers to postpone the festival because their forces will be overburdened with the concurrent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, The Post said.

Homosexual activists, meanwhile, are voicing impatience with the religious leaders who are calling for a halt to the plans for Jerusalem WorldPride 2005.

“That is something new I’ve never witnessed before, such an attempt to globalize bigotry,” Hagai El-Ad, executive director of Jerusalem Open House, said in The Times. “It’s quite sad and ironic that these religious figures are coming together around such a negative message.”

Organizers have said they chose Jerusalem as the site for this year’s parade in order to promote tolerance in the conservative city that has been divided for years by violence related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Even so, Jerusalem’s religious faithful contend the event would only serve to desecrate the city and provoke believers.

“The particular holiness of Jerusalem has requirements both for those who are believers and those who are not,” Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah said in The Post.

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