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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 18:46 GMT
Jerusalem holds gay pride rally
Gay pride rally
The event highlights deep divisions between Israeli communities
A controversial gay pride rally has taken place in Jerusalem despite calls from religious leaders to ban it.

About 4,000 gay men, lesbians and civil rights supporters gathered at the Hebrew University stadium.

Security was tight in the city with 3,000 Israeli police drafted in to stop clashes between the demonstrators and orthodox Jews.

About 30 gay protesters who tried to march illegally through the city were arrested by Israeli police.

The proposed march was cancelled by Israeli police on Thursday after Palestinian threats to attack Israel after the shelling in Gaza in which 18 Palestinian civilians were killed.

People have the right to partake in loving relationships of their choice
Matthew, Bethlehem

Event organisers agreed to move the event to the stadium after Israeli police said they needed to divert forces to deal with the security threat.

Permission from the authorities for the proposed march through Jerusalem had provoked controversy. Some Jewish religious leaders, who believe that homosexuality is an abomination, had tried to get the march banned.

Religious sensibilities

Ultra-orthodox Jews clashed with Israeli police earlier this week after calling for the march to be cancelled, saying it defiled the holy city.

The proposed march was also criticised by the Muslim and Christian religious communities.

The Vatican called for it to be scrapped for fear of offending "the sensibilities of religious communities".

As the event got under way, thousands of gay people poured into the stadium to hear a series of speeches.

Many wore T-shirts celebrating their sexuality while others held banners and flags. One banner read: "There are different ways to be a Jew."

Two men dressed as sperm handed out condoms to participants.

One man at the rally told that the BBC that "that people need to be more accepting of homosexuality".

The four-hour event passed off without any reports of violence.

At last year's march, three participants were injured when they were stabbed by an orthodox Jew who opposed the event.

This year's gathering had already been postponed because of the conflict with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas during the summer.

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