Legislation aimed at blocking the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade passed in a first Knesset reading. The two bills, filed by Shas and another right-wing religious faction, were passed Wednesday by votes of 40 to 23 and 41 to 21. Given deep ideological divisions in the Knesset over the annual event, which is provisionally scheduled to take place June 21, the legislation is unlikely to be ratified. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose coalition government includes Shas, distanced himself from Wednesday’s votes. “While the prime minister does not believe that Jerusalem is the natural place for the Gay Pride March due to the city’s special sensitivity, he does not think that there are any grounds for legally restricting these issues,” Olmert’s office said in a statement. Last year’s Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade was preceded by weeklong rioting by fervently Orthodox protesters in the capital. Olmert has a lesbian daughter who is very active in Israeli gay rights.
Lawmakers move against gay parade