An Israeli religious university has reportedly banned a planned Pride event, which a campus spokesman reportedly compared to a celebration of pedophilia.
Organizers say administrators at Bar-Ilan University told them they should hold a different meeting “with the participation of different speakers, such as psychologists and rabbis, who could offer help for participants.”
The university is denying the claims that organizers were asked to change the event so dramatically and instead say they offered help organizing an alternative “academic” event.
Students and a faculty advisor who were present at a meeting with the university’s Dean of Students, Professor Uri Nir, say Nir was clear the school would not host a Pride event on its Tel Aviv campus.
In a statement released after news of the university’s decision became public, the school explained:
“Taking into consideration the religious character of the university, in light of the fact that the event students requested to hold was not connected to academic or student activities, the administration notified students that it will allow an event that has an academic nature in one of the campus halls, a symposium or panel that deals with the relevant subjects for the gay community. The university offered the students help with organizing the event and finding participants and speakers. Unfortunately, the organizers chose, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to misrepresent the university’s offer to help organize the event.”
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, university spokesperson Haim Zisowitz said the Pride celebration would be like celebrating pedophilia. “To say that we are in favor - without making a comparison, and don’t get me wrong - but a group that says, ‘We want and believe in pedophilia, in permitting sex with minors, and we want to have a happening’ - every call to break the law is a problem and those are the laws of the Torah,” said Zisowitz.
The university has not attempted to publicly reconcile the spokesperson’s comments with claims by critics that the university is not anti-LGBT.