Responding to an official notice signed by city hall director-general Eitan Mayer, Jerusalem Open House director Hagai El-Ad denounced the city’s “discriminatory policy” and said the issue at hand related to democratic values.
El-Ad also promised the pride events would take place as scheduled.
“The events will take place as planned. The march’s route has already been authorized by the district police,” the Open House said.
The incident is the latest in a string of clashes between Jerusalem's homosexual community and its ultra-Orthodox mayor. Recently, Open House agreed to postpone the International Gay Pride March because of security issues stemming from the events proximity to the Gaza disengagement program.
This time, Director-General Meir wrote to Open House, “Due to the complexity and sensitivity of the topic, the mayor decided to call for a special debate among city hall administrators about the request and its implications for public order, and due to the normal course of events, the consultation took as long as it did.
“The mayor notified me during this city hall administration meeting that he decided, based upon the general consensus of administrators, that it wouldn’t be right to authorize the march and the related festivities in Jerusalem out of the concern that it would be provocative and hurt the feelings of the broader public living in and visiting the city and due to concerns about public disorder.”
The director-general also said that it was city hall’s responsibility that different groups living in the city have their sensibilities respected and that the Gay Pride March has been provocative in the past.
Bronfman: City in Dark Ages
The Open House responded angrily to the letter from Meir.
“Free speech must win, and the festivities will take place next Thursday as scheduled. Regarding the position of city hall, the success of this year’s Gay Pride event in Jerusalem is more critical than ever,” Open House Director Hagai Elad said.
The police have already authorized the march’s route - It will take place next Thursday at 6:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. EDT), beginning at the Ben-Yeduda pedestrian mall. The march will continue along King George and Keren Hayasod Streets and end up at Liberty Bell Park, where the festivities will take place.
Last week, the Open House submitted an administrative petition to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court forcing city hall to cooperate with the march’s organizers.
On Sunday, the court will debate the topic.
Knesset Member Roman Bronfman (Yahad - Democratic Choice) said City hall came to a "shameful decision" without any explanation.
"The reasoning of the municipality is absurd and demonstrates a benighted moral outlook … I recommend that the Open House bypass this primitive city hall through legal proceedings.”