Jerusalem gays lead "kissing" protest

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 09 2002 11:00 PM ET

A bitter dispute erupted last week in Jerusalem between police and local gays and lesbians, culminating in a same-sex "kissing protest" Thursday night outside Jerusalem police headquarters, reports The Jerusalem Post. The dispute began September 1, when a passerby spotted two male teenagers near the Old City's Jaffa Gate in a "most intimate situation," according to a summation of events given by Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby. The civilian notified a police patrol, which found the two "with their pants down committing oral sex," Ben-Ruby said, based on officers' testimony. The two teenagers, 18 and 16, told the officers they were "just kissing each other" and resisted arrest. A backup patrol was called, and the two were forcibly handcuffed and detained. For the next four hours, they were interrogated in the Russian Compound. According to Jerry Levinson, head of Open House, the gay and lesbian community center in Jerusalem, police officers verbally abused them, mocking them because of their sexual orientation. The two were released, but the 18-year-old returned to the station the next day with his father, the police spokesman said, in order to complete his investigation. The teen asserted that he had been abused by the officers, and police recommended that he file a complaint. The teenager and his father were disinclined to do so, Ben-Ruby said, and so police did so for them. Thursday night's same-sex kissing protest by some two dozen demonstrators was in response to the "detention and torture" of gay men and lesbians kissing in the street, Levinson said. Ben-Ruby said the police welcomed the demonstration "with open arms."

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