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 'Gay Pride' in holy city

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Israeli youths dance during a party following a gay pride parade where hundreds participated, in downtown Jerusalem Thursday June 3, 2004. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Jerusalem's ultra-religious Jewish community orchestrated demonstrations against yesterday's third annual "Gay Pride" parade, while several threats were reportedly made against politicians who participated in the event.

The parade, which began at 6:30 p.m., marched from the popular Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall outside the Old City to Jerusalem's Liberty Bell Park, where the celebration concluded with a large party. Israeli television showed hundreds of marchers waving rainbow flags, including a few men dressed in drag and others wearing very colorful outfits, parading up the street amongst tight security. Approximately 3,000 people attended the event.


Several small counter protests were reportedly held outside the vicinity of the parade, and at least two people were arrested for throwing eggs at the crowd.


A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews held demonstrations against the parade last week, and signs were placed in Jerusalem condemning the march as blasphemy, saying it drives holiness out of the city.


Jerusalem Councilman Saar Netanel, who helped organize the parade, says he received a telephone threat to his life, and an official in the Jerusalem mayor's office told WND Mayor Uri Lupolianski was asked to increase his security detail after intelligence information indicated certain factions in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community planned to attack him.


Elected in June 2003, Lupolianski is the first ultra-Orthodox Jew to serve as mayor of Jerusalem, and some ultra-Orthodox groups are particularly upset that he allowed a homosexual event to be staged in the holy city


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