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Robert Berger | Jerusalem 29 July 2010
Ultra-Orthodox Jews attend a prayer and protest against a gay pride parade, in the Mea Sharim neighborhood of Jerusalem, 29 Jul 2010
It was homosexual rights vs. religion on Thursday in Jerusalem as some 3,000 Israelis joined a gay pride parade, marching with colorful balloons and dancing in the streets. The march infuriated Orthodox Jews. But Yonatan Gher, one of the parade organizers, says there is no religious monopoly on the Holy City.
"The reason the march takes place in Jerusalem is not to upset anyone," said Gher. "We're here because we're Jerusalemites. This is our city as much as anybody else's."
Ultra-Orthodox Jews held counter-demonstrations, carrying signs that read: "Sick perverts, get out of Jerusalem." Many agree with this man who says that the Bible describes homosexuality as an "abomination."
"The promotion of a gay lifestyle in the streets of Jerusalem, which is the holiest city for the Jewish people, [and] for the other religions - for Muslims, for Christians - it's a provocation" said one Orthodox Jewish man.
The march ended up at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, with a memorial service for two Israelis who were killed in a shooting at a gay club in Tel Aviv last year. Gay rights activists like Gher say religious leaders should learn from that event.
"When you keep talking about abomination and about the way the Bible looks at the issue of homosexuality, there are individuals out there who could turn those words into violence," said Gher.
To prevent violence, about 1,500 Israeli police officers guarded the Gay Pride Parade, which meant about one police officer for every two participants in the event.