Organizers of Madrid's pride parade, scheduled for the beginning of next month, have announced that they are cancelling the invitation of Israeli representatives slated to appear there, Ynet learned Monday.
The Israeli delegation, made up of members of the LGBT association and the Foreign Ministry, was scheduled to run an Israeli "bus" in the parade, for the first time since its establishment.
But the delegation has recently received hints from Spain that their arrival may cause anger among local pro-Palestinian groups, which may require excess security and, more importantly, cause a lot of embarrassment.
The organizers' fears peaked with the emergence of anti-Israel protests following the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, and on Monday they cited lack of security for the cancellation. Sources close to the affair say the decision was also affected by a number of anti-Israeli groups.
Madrid pride parade in 2006 (Photo: Reuters)
The Madrid Pride Parade is considered one of the largest in the world, and boasts over a million marchers each year. The past few weeks have seen Israel's gay and lesbian community in intense preparations for the event, including choosing its representatives.
Community reps expressed their deep disappointment by Madrid's decision. Chairman of the LGBT Union in Israel, Mike Hamel told Ynet, "We regret the fact that the pride organizations in Madrid have decided to focus on issues that have nothing to do with the community. The Union was invited as a non-political organization. This is a missed opportunity for dialogue."
Foreign Ministry official Yossi Levy said, "As far as we know, the Spanish organizers of the parade canceled Israel's participation for so-called security concerns. In any case, this is an ugly scandal that turns the pride parade into a shame parade.
"Israel is the only country in the Middle East that holds pride parades, hangs pride flags on the streets and respects the gay and lesbian community's rights. The primitive politicization and the blatant capitulation to the terror and violence of anti-Israeli elements go against the Pride Parade's principle of preventing discrimination," he added.
"Those who decided to prevent Tel Aviv's representatives from participating are dragging the Pride Parade into the hallways of the anti-Israeli inquisition, instead of marching on the path of tolerance and dialogue."