[Paleopsych] NYT: Clerics Fighting a Gay Festival for Jerusalem

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Thu Mar 31 15:40:13 UTC 2005

The New York Times > International > International Special > Clerics
Fighting a Gay Festival for Jerusalem
March 31, 2005


    International gay leaders are planning a 10-day WorldPride festival
    and parade in Jerusalem in August, saying they want to make a
    statement about tolerance and diversity in the Holy City, home to
    three great religious traditions.

    Now major leaders of the three faiths - Christianity, Judaism and
    Islam - are making a rare show of unity to try to stop the festival.
    They say the event would desecrate the city and convey the erroneous
    impression that homosexuality is acceptable.

    "They are creating a deep and terrible sorrow that is unbearable,"
    Shlomo Amar, Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi, said yesterday at a news
    conference in Jerusalem attended by Israel's two chief rabbis, the
    patriarchs of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian
    churches, and three senior Muslim prayer leaders. "It hurts all of the
    religions. We are all against it."

    Abdel Aziz Bukhari, a Sufi sheik, added: "We can't permit anybody to
    come and make the Holy City dirty. This is very ugly and very nasty to
    have these people come to Jerusalem."

    Israeli authorities have not indicated what action, if any, they might
    take to limit the events. Banning the festival would seem unlikely,
    though the government could withhold the required permits for specific
    events, like a parade.

    Interfaith agreement is unusual in Israel. The leaders' joint
    opposition was initially generated by the Rev. Leo Giovinetti, an
    evangelical pastor from San Diego who is both a veteran of the
    American culture war over homosexuality and a frequent visitor to
    Israel, where he has formed relationships with rabbis and politicians.

    Organizers of the gay pride event, Jerusalem WorldPride 2005, said
    that 75 non-Orthodox rabbis had signed a statement of support for the
    event, and that Christian and Muslim leaders as well as Israeli
    politicians were expected to announce their support soon. They said
    they were dismayed to see that what united their opponents was their
    objection to homosexuality.

    "That is something new I've never witnessed before, such an attempt to
    globalize bigotry," said Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of
    Jerusalem Open House, a gay and lesbian group that is the host for the
    festival. "It's quite sad and ironic that these religious figures are
    coming together around such a negative message."

    Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, co-chairwoman of the festival and the rabbi of
    Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a gay synagogue in New York City,
    said the controversy was another sign that each religion had become
    polarized between its liberal and conservative wings.

    The global Anglican Communion split deeply over homosexuality in the
    last two years after its American affiliate ordained an openly gay
    bishop and the Canada affiliate decided to allow blessings of same-sex

    "I reject that they have the right to define religion in such a narrow
    way," Rabbi Kleinbaum said of religious leaders who denounce
    homosexuality. "Gay and lesbian people are saying we are equal
    partners in religious communities, and we believe in a religious world
    in which all are created in God's image."

    The festival is planned for Aug. 18-28 and is expected to draw
    thousands of visitors from dozens of countries. The theme is "Love
    Without Borders," and a centerpiece will be a parade on Aug. 25
    through Jerusalem, a city that remains deeply conservative, though
    other parts of Israel have become increasingly accepting of gays in
    recent years. Other events include a film festival, art exhibits and a
    conference for clerics.

    When the first WorldPride festival was held five years ago in Rome,
    religious opposition came from the Vatican, while secular opposition
    came from a neo-Fascist group that vowed to hold a
    counterdemonstration. But the neo-Fascists canceled their
    demonstration, the march came off peacefully, and even a few
    center-right politicians joined many thousands of marchers.

    One day later, however, Pope John Paul II appeared on a balcony over
    St. Peter's Square and delivered a message expressing his "bitterness"
    that the gay festival had gone forward, calling it an "offense to the
    Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of Catholics
    across the world."

    Both WorldPride festivals were initiated by an umbrella group,
    InterPride, that says its mission is to promote gay rights

    The outcry over the 2005 festival will not be confined to Israel. The
    American evangelical leader who helped to galvanize the opposition,
    Mr. Giovinetti, is the senior pastor of Mission Valley Christian
    Fellowship, an independent church that meets in a hotel in Southern
    California. A former band leader in Las Vegas, he is also host of a
    radio program heard on stations around the United States.

    Neither he nor other evangelical American leaders were at the news
    conference in Jerusalem, which was called by the chief rabbinate of
    Israel. But by all accounts Mr. Giovinetti played a crucial role in
    spreading the first alarms among religious leaders about the gay

    He said he had first heard about WorldPride from a congregation member
    who had told Mr. Giovinetti that he was gay for many years and still
    monitored gay Web sites. Mr. Giovinetti said he alerted Israeli
    politicians and religious leaders.

    Mr. Giovinetti circulated a petition against the festival, titled
    "Homosexuals to Desecrate Jerusalem," which he said had been signed by
    every member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party in the Israeli
    Parliament. Another American who helped bring together the opposition
    was Rabbi Yehuda Levin, of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, which
    says it represents more than 1,000 American Orthodox rabbis. At the
    news conference in Jerusalem, he called the festival "the spiritual
    rape of the Holy City." He said, "This is not the homo land, this is
    the Holy Land."

    Annual marches by homosexuals have become routine in Tel Aviv, a
    secular coastal city. For the past three years, gay parades have also
    been staged in Jerusalem. Religious groups have complained, but the
    police have issued permits for the events, which have been held
    without any serious incidents.

    Laurie Goodstein reported from New York for this article and Greg Myre
    from Jerusalem.

More information about the paleopsych mailing list