Jerusalem Gay Parade Expected to Pass Peacefully

Ultra-Orthodox decided to cease from protesting to avoid exposing their young people to the subject.

Today's Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem is not expected to stir violent protests, police sources say.

They expect the highly controversial event to run smoothly because leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community - who in past years have led anti-gay protests - decided to cease from protesting to avoid exposing their young people to the subject.

As a result, only 1,600 police officers will be assigned to the parade, compared with 12,000 in 2006.

Some ultra-Orthodox opponents of the event have received a permit to hold a protest rally at Sabbath Square.

The parade's organizers expect around 5,000 participants to show up, slightly more than in recent years.

The parade will set out from Liberty Bell Park and continue along King David Street to Independence Park.

'Not act of defiance'

Mickey Goldstein, chairman of Open House gay-rights organization, said the parade was not meant as an act of defiance against the ultra-Orthodox community. "The ultra-Orthodox have nothing to do with it," he said.

However, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's decision to reopen the Safra parking garage on the Sabbath has provoked ultra-Orthodox protests not only on the Safra issue but also against the parade.

The Safra parking garage will be open to cars this Saturday because a nearby lot did not receive court permission to open in time for the Sabbath.

This development is expected to lead to renewed protesting by ultra-Orthodox demonstrators.

The Eda Haredit, an ultra-Orthodox group that led noisy demonstrations two weeks ago, has called for a mass-prayer rally on the capital's Bar-Ilan Street tomorrow night.