Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:12 pm (KSA) 09:12 am (GMT)

Thousands take part in Jerusalem Gay Pride

Around 2,000 people gathered for the annual event (File)
Around 2,000 people gathered for the annual event (File)

About 2,000 people gathered in occupied Jerusalem on Thursday for the annual Gay Pride parade which in the past had been the focus of violent controversy in the Holy City.

Surrounded by about the same number of police, the marchers set off for kilometer-long (0.6-mile) parade in central Jerusalem, holding aloft rainbow banners.

"We want this parade to go ahead without violence," said Yonathan Leibowicz, of the Jerusalem Open House organization that organized the event.

"We reached an agreement with religious authorities to have a low-key demonstration so as not to shock people," he said.

Israel's Supreme Court earlier this week rejected a petition by a group of hard-line Jewish activists who wanted the parade banned saying it was a "provocation" to hold it in this deeply religious city.

In 2005 an ultra-orthodox Jew stabbed three participants and was subsequently sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The following year the venue was switched to a sports stadium following violent protests by ultra-orthodox Jews and rightwing opponents who consider the event "a profanity" of the Holy City.

"The violence and intimidation surrounding Pride 2005 and 2006 only serves as proof that we must assure that our rights as citizens of Jerusalem are defended," Open House said in a statement.

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