Jerusalem Gay Parade Ban Reversed

An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the Jerusalem municipality to allow a gay pride parade to take place, reversing a ban last week by the city's mayor.

A judge charged the city of Jerusalem to pay $13,000, with half the amount coming from ultra-Orthodox Jewish Mayor Uri Lupolianski for trying to stop the June 30 event by gay rights group Jerusalem Open House. It also ordered the city to place the rainbow flag, symbol of the homosexual movement, over city hall and along the parade route.

"The harming of the sensitivities of one community or another is not enough to prevent another community from fulfilling its rights to equality, respect and freedom of expression," wrote Jerusalem District Court Judge Musya Arad in his ruling, according to the Associated Press.

Last week, Jerusalem City Hall had announced that it was banning the local, 4th annual Jerusalem Pride: Love Without Borders parade because "it would be provocative and hurt the feelings of the broader public living in and visiting the city."

After the ruling, a statement by a city spokesperson said that "the city's administration did not intend to attack the freedom of expression of one group or another, as argued, but feared that the event would inflame tensions and hurt the delicate ties (among various groups) in the city."

The parade's route goes past areas where many residents are orthodox Jews, who regard homosexuality as an abomination. The mayor had also cited safety concerns about public disorder were the event to take place. About 4,000 people attended last year.

Director of Open House, Hagai El-Ad said that the court decision "is a victory not just for the lesbian and gay community in Jerusalem, but a triumph for freedom of speech," according to AP.

Three months ago, Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders united in an attempt to block the international World Pride 2005 gay festival from taking place. Recently, organizers had decided to postpone the parade until 2006 because the event dates coincided withdrawal of Israelis from the Gaza Strip in August.