Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Stabbings mar Jerusalem Gay Pride parade

JERUSALEM -- An ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed and wounded two marchers in the annual Jerusalem Gay Pride parade Thursday, the most serious in a series of incidents involving opponents of the gay and lesbian gathering.

Opponents tried to stop the march by throwing a stink bomb at the starting point, but several thousand marchers paraded through the center of Jerusalem anyway, braving shouts and insults from protesters, most young ultra-Orthodox Jews.

"Homo sex is immoral," read a sign carried by one protester. As the parade neared a main downtown intersection, the attacker jumped into the first group of marchers and stabbed a middle-aged man. Blood from his chest seeped through his shirt as he sat, dazed, at the side of the road before an ambulance came to take him to a hospital, where he was said to be seriously wounded.

The man, who was not immediately identified, was marching with his two teenage daughters.

The attacker stabbed another victim, wounding him slightly, before being apprehended, Israel Radio said. A number of others were arrested, the radio said.

The march proceeded despite the violence.

"It took many years for Jerusalem to have the Gay Pride parade," said one participant, 39-year-old Moshik Toledano, "but once it happens, it makes no difference if the ultra-Orthodox come here and try to stop it."

Organizers called off an international gay festival set for late summer because of Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank around the same time. But they decided to go ahead with the annual local march, despite opposition from Orthodox Jews, who have a strong presence in the city.
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