Friday, June 22, 2007

Gay Pride March

The Gay Pride March was the hot topic this week. Most of the blogs I've read have been very sensible (I don't like reading blogs that aren't sensible). I've avoided writing about it because I didn't have time to think about how to express myself. My chevrusa cancelled on me this morning, so I'll try and write down some thoughts now, for what they are worth.

the parade was yesterday. What happened (as best I understand) is that 2000 paraders mached for about 200 yards while protected by 8000 police men. There was a Hareidi Tehillim session several blocks away with 3000 people praying. There were 20 arrests, but no violence (although there had been in the week leading up to it).

I don't think those who know me would accuse me of being anti-gay. I have friends who are homosexual and have been involved in classes and sessions (and on the panel discussion for one of the screenings of 'Trembling Before G-d'), not to mention that I invited Rabbi Steve Greenberg to speak in Leeds.

But I was and am against the gay pride parade. I am against any sexual parade, heterosexual or homosexual. I don't think it is appropriate anywhere, and certainly not in our holiest city of Jerusalem. I am not necessarily against equal rights for gays (within most contexts, though I would be against gay marriage ceremonies, just as I am against any marriage ceremony that doesn't conform to halacha). But parading through the streets is not about rights or acceptance, but about flaunting. That is nothing to do with freedom of expression or democracy. Why is there any need for anyone to share their intimate private life with the world?

In addition, it seems to me that it is the height of irresponsibility to bring the whole city to a standstill and take police away from their job so that you can prove a point and have a parade. I am equally against closing the city when foreign dignitaries come to visit, or the Prime Minister has a meeting, but those are trials that we have to live with. But (especially at this time, with war on our borders and doorstep) how can anyone feel happy disrupting life of hundreds of thousands of people, and putting lives at risk and taking police from their duties, for a parade?

However, I think the worst part of this parade, is that it shows the Hareidim (some of them at any rate) up for who they are. The biggest chilul Hashem is photos of Hariedim fighting with police, and committing arson. What kind of religion is it where hatred of another group (even if you disagree with them) is justification for damage and destruction, not to mention hate mongering and slander? In fairness, the gadolim told people not to protest (too little, too late, but it is something). Before that I had told someone that i was more anti haredim than I was anti paraders! If you have read what the Talmud (in the last chapter of Yuma) and the Rambam have to say about Chilul Hashem, not to mention the other prohibitions involved, you would agree with me that the parade brought shame, not only to the paraders, but even more so to the protesters.

Of course, the real threat and fear in this is not the couple of thousand marchers and the couple of hundred yards they marched, but what will be in the future. And it is clear that this is not going to be the end.

May G-d protect us from fools who desecrate His name in the pretense of protecting His honour, and may G-d grant wisdom to the parade organisers, government and courts to realise that Jerusalem is not the place for such an event.

And may He Who brings peace in Heaven bring peace in the world and to all of klal yisrael.

Gut Shabbes

Rabbi Sedley

No comments:

Post a Comment