Here on Jewlicious, we always love a good party and have mostly been supportive of gay parades in Israel mainly because, well, because they’re fun and harmless.
Having said that, we have some guests who feel that gay pride parades shouldn’t be held in Jerusalem because of the sanctity of the city to the three religions that forbid homosexual relations between men (nobody mentions lesbians, right?). These guests, while figuratively holding their noses, have said in the past that they (contemptuously) agree that Tel Aviv is a satisfactory location for
sodomy a parade regarding a subject that violates biblical strictures.
Of course, the virtual world is removed from the real world where last year’s Jerusalem gay pride parade was postponed over and over again due to threats from certain Orthodox Jewish quarters, particularly among Haredi Jews. The police, not realizing that giving in to threats and incitement is
like being penetrated from behind unwise because it’s going to happen over and over again with even more lubricant greater ease, finally gave in, cancelled the parade and held a rally in some closed Jerusalem location. The point was made and a small, aggressive minority abused the law with facilitation from the police.
Enter the politicians. A bill has now passed two readings in the Knesset (I believe it needs three readings to become law but I welcome more information on this) that seeks to end any and all gay parades in Israel. Specifically, the bill seeks to end parades or protests that “hurt the public order, public feeling or religious sensitivity.” At this point, it has enough votes to pass unless some people who are currently abstaining or averting their gaze decide to vote against. Now, to be clear, there’s a good chance the Supreme Court would render such a law invalid, but that’s assuming that Friedman, the Minister of Justice who seeks to change the function and authority of Israel’s Supreme Court (he was appointed to this role by Olmert who was angry that his friend Ramon was indicted for sticking his tongue in a subordinate’s mouth without her consent) doesn’t undermine the Court first. Moreover, it’s doing precisely what shouldn’t be done when writing laws: composing unenforceable laws to make a chest thumping statement while trampling on civil rights, with the full knowledge that the Court will take full responsibility for the fiasco by cancelling it.
The problem with this law, by the way, is not only gay pride parades. One can envision an Orthodox group denying the right of a secular group to hold a rally because it offends their religious sensibility. One can imagine a secular group protesting an Orthodox gathering becaause it hurts public order. One can see a law such as this used against non-Jews in Israel or by a government to stifle dissent. In other words, this is a terrible piece of law-making and is entirely contrary to the notion of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. It goes against the fundamental premise of Israel’s democratic ideals.
Here, let me remind you about some of those ideals:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Somebody other than Meretz members needs to stand up and speak loudly against this law and then ensure that these few politicians with anti-democratic ideas that pander to members of their constituency do not push through a law that undermines the very foundations of the state. Ramming restrictions on freedom of expression, gathering and protest down an electorate’s throat is not only illegal and unsavory, it’s obscene.