Shas MK: Gays Are Causing Israeli Society to Self-destruct

Knesset panel meets to deliberate two bills which would amend Jerusalem city law to ban gay pride parades.

As a Knesset panel deliberated Tuesday on proposals to ban all gay pride parades in Jerusalem, MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas) accused the homosexual community of "carrying out the self-destruction of Israeli society and the Jewish people."

Ze'ev also said homosexuals were a plague as "toxic as bird flu."

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee met to debate two bills presented by religious party members which would amend the Jerusalem municipality's Basic Law to prevent gay pride parades from being held within the city limits.

The bills were presented by MK Eli Gabai (National Union - National Religious Party) and MK Yitzhak Vakhnin (Shas).

Both bulls were passed in a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum and have have now been brought for committee deliberations ahead of a first reading.

MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) said in response to Ze'ev's comments that "when I hear concepts like plague and self-destruction, I don't believe they are in the lexicon of expressions. The capital city does not belong only to the ultra-Orthodox."

The chairman of Israel's LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) organization, Michael Hammel, called Ze'ev's words embarrassing and frightening.

"The right to march in the capital city is not a local 'Jerusalemite' matter," he said. "This is a culture war, where politicians are trying to turn Jerusalem into their private property."

Committee members decided that public figures from the religious and homosexual communities in Jerusalem would meet to discuss the gay pride parade on a separate occasion.

MK Yitzhak Levy (NU - NRP) said, "the current situation is that this is a crippled and small protest: once you close a stadium, once you give 100 meters. There should have been a discussion to find new ideas, thus I am calling for a discussion."

Noa Setet, who runs Jerusalem's Open House - the organization which has initiated the parade - seconded Levy's suggestion, but added that the group had scheduled two meetings in the past and Levy's aides had canceled both of them.

Levy denied having canceled the meeting and said he intended two recruit other public figures from the religious community for the future discussion.