Jerusalem's newly elected ultraorthodox mayor gave lukewarm backing Tuesday for a gay rights parade in the city as police opened an investigation into the destruction of gay pride flags along the parade route. Uri Lupolianski, who was elected mayor June 3, defended the right to hold the parade, while making it clear he had no intention of participating in it. "Everyone has his own parade," he said. "I myself will be marching in another parade."
Meanwhile, Jerusalem police began investigating the destruction of approximately 20 of the 100 rainbow-striped flags hung by the Jerusalem municipality in the city center over the past week. Parade organizer Hagai Elad said the flags were destroyed on Sunday and Monday nights. "I blame the police for not taking proper precautions," he said. "As for who is responsible, I cannot really speculate."
In a statement sent to the Maariv daily, the right-wing Kach movement, banned under Israeli law since the 1980s, sharply criticized Lupolianski for allowing the flags to be hung. "It's disgraceful that gay pride flags should fly in Jerusalem, particularly when there is an ultraorthodox mayor," it said. "We will not permit the Jewish character of the city to be undermined."
This is the second year the Jerusalem gay rights pride is taking place. It was originally set for last Friday but was postponed until June 20 following a June 11 bus bombing in the city that killed 17 people, including Alan Beer, one of the parade's organizers.