JERUSALEM – A world homosexual event planned for Jerusalem this summer is morally outrageous and highly offensive to religious sensibilities, a Christian group that is seeking 1 million signatures on a petition to stop the event told WorldNetDaily.

World Pride 2005, a mass international gathering of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals, is scheduled to take place August in Jerusalem. The theme for the gathering, according to the event website, is “Love without borders,” with the goal of bringing a “new focus to an ancient city through a massive demonstration of LGBT dignity, pride and boundary-crossing celebration. In these times of intolerance and suspicion, from the home of three of the world’s great religions, we will proclaim that love knows no borders.”

The global homosexual gathering, organized by InterPride, the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Pride Coordinators, was last held in 2000 in Rome, where it attracted about a quarter of a million participants. Images of the Rome festivities, featured on various homosexual websites, shows throngs of shirtless men in shorts and bikini briefs congregated on the streets, some of them holding hands.

The 2005 event brochure explains Jerusalem was picked as this year’s site in part to strike a religious chord.

Parade revelers at 2000 Rome event.

“The struggle for acceptance and pride is particularly pointed in Jerusalem, a city that is home to three of the world’s great religions. The greatest traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism affirm the dignity of all human beings and our creation in the divine image. Yet these same faiths have often been sources of hostility and intolerance for LGBT people,” says the brochure.

“WorldPride 2005 will bring thousands of us to Jerusalem to confront preconception with reality, prejudice with an opportunity for understanding, in a way that will capture the attention of the world. Together we will proclaim that in this ancient religious city – and in this region – we too belong.”

But the Jerusalem Prayer Team, a Christian group that asks members to pray for and encourage the people of Israel, has called the planned World Pride event a moral abomination and is seeking 1 million signatures on a petition to ask the Jerusalem mayor and the city’s municipality to cancel the event.

“This is a moral outrage,” Prayer Team founder Mike Evans told WorldNetDaily. “Jerusalem is where heaven and earth met and will meet again. It is the holiest city. This event will bring to the streets homosexuals in immodest dress, in G-strings, with all kinds of pornographic images. They plan to fill the hotels and restaurants and party like Sodomites, while the world press takes pictures. It is a disgrace to the eternal holiness of Jerusalem and to its people.”

Evans penned an open letter asking Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, an Orthodox Jew who has in the past expressed reservations about homosexual events, to stop World Pride 2005 from being held in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem municipality, which holds jurisdiction over city permits, officially approved the World Pride gathering last year in spite of Lupolianski’s known views on the subject.

“I am praying for you that God will give you the strength, wisdom and protection you need to oppose this abomination in the city of Jerusalem,” wrote Evans to Lupolianski.

World Pride is not the first homosexual event to be featured in Jerusalem. The city has hosted three previous local “gay pride” parades that drew several thousand revelers.

Speaking about the pride parade in Jerusalem this past summer, Lupolianski said in a radio interview: “This is a horrible parade. It is not only ugly; it’s also a provocation. It’s not appropriate for the city, and it offends the sensibilities of its residents. Even people distant from Jerusalem must grasp that this is a sacred city for the Jewish people and the world as a whole.

“There is a difference between everyone dancing his own dance as usual, and having a parade, which is an attempt to jump up and stomp on the toes of the general public,” Lupolianski said.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Jerusalem Open House, a homosexual and lesbian community center sponsoring World Pride, told WorldNetDaily: “The mayor of Jerusalem doesn’t have the authority to stop us. We live in a democracy, not a theocracy.”

El-Ad said he takes issue with Evans’ petition.

“Part of the message of pride is that no one has the monopoly on the interpretation of the word of God,” he said. “There are many voices about homosexuality, not just one across the board.”

But Evans says aside from the negative Israeli political and global religious implications of the homosexual event, he is worried about the perception by Orthodox Jews of what they might think are visiting Christians.

A participant in Rome event.

Said Evans: “The Jewish people will think the majority of these people are Christians because they will profess to be. Gay pastors will probably organize tours. Men will be holding hands in holy places. There is no doubt in my mind that this is an attempt to disgrace everything that true Christians consider to be pure and holy.”

He says he is also concerned for the Jewish children of Jerusalem:

“This is going to leave a very dangerous impression on the young children when they see the kinds of things we expect on the streets. If you bring more than 100,000 homosexuals to the streets, there won’t be a child in Jerusalem unaffected.”

Evans stressed his organization “doesn’t hate gays. We just cannot condone their lifestyle. If anything, we ask people to show compassion and mercy toward homosexuals. We ask people to pray for these folks, a lot of whom are hurting because they have AIDS or problems with substance abuse. Some have gone through abuse in their childhood.”

Evans may not have to do much to stop the homosexual event. The Jerusalem police have said they are considering canceling the pride festivities because they expect to be overburdened by carrying out the withdrawal from Jewish settlements in Gaza and parts of the West Bank this summer. Enforcement of the withdrawal has been given to the police, who say they may not have adequate resources to provide security for such a large event at the same time.

But El-Ad said he is confident the parade will take place and will affirm tolerance toward homosexuals.

Homosexual activists call Israel one of the most “progressive” countries with regard to “gay rights.” It was one of the first countries to appeal anti-sodomy laws. Same-sex unions are recognized. Tel Aviv is considered a homosexual mecca. And in December, Israel’s attorney general granted same-sex couples many of the same rights as heterosexual spouses when he decided to uphold a court decision giving homosexual partners equal rights in matters of property, taxation and inheritance.

Meanwhile, resistance to World Pride is not limited to Christian groups. Orthodox Jewish organizations and rabbinic authorities have been voicing their displeasure with the event.

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, director of Jews for Morality, wrote a letter blasting the Jerusalem mayor:

“Mayor Lupolianski, I know that you were elected to your position by a slim majority that included many secular Likud people, and you probably feel that you have to reach out to accommodate them as much as possible. But there is a limit to what can and what cannot be tolerated. You cannot be a complete sycophant.

“Your ‘tolerant’ behavior only emboldened the homosexuals, and now radical activists from all over the world are preparing to come to Jerusalem in massive numbers to publicly desecrate the city with their abominations.”

Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky, rabbi of Chabad Center of Tel Aviv, told WND: “Jerusalem has a special significance in its level of holiness. It is called the Palace of Hashem (God), where Hashem’s presence resides. Having a gay pride event anywhere is against the Torah, but to bring such a deep tumah (contamination) into Jerusalem is to disgrace the holiest city in the world.”

Evans thinks his petition will make a difference. “It is very important that whatever the city of Jerusalem does, it takes into consideration the values of 2 billion Christians worldwide.”

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