Bar-Ilan University in Israel bans Gay Pride Month events

By Andrew V. Pestano

TEL AVIV, Israel, June 10 (UPI) -- A decision by the Bar-Ilan University in Israel to ban public Gay Pride Month demonstrations has been condemned by the National Union of Israeli Students.

Pride events were to be held June 22, but the university's president and administration banned all gay pride public events on campus. The university will allow a closed-door academic panel where previously approved speakers can speak.


Representatives from organizations are banned, as is the distribution of flyers, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The event was prepared by Omer Machluf, chairman of the LGBT Forum at the university that works under the National Union of Israeli Students. He met with Uri Nir, the dean of students, on Tuesday when he was informed that the public event would not take place.

Machluf advocated for the importance of a public event.

"As there is a large group on campus of students who belong to the gay community but are at various stages of accepting their sexual identity and coming out of the closet, so they do not attend the regular meetings of the student group and will also not attend a segregated event held in a closed hall," Machluf said in a statement.


According to Haaretz, Bar-Ilan University spokesman Haim Zisovich said "the university has a religious character and homosexual relations are forbidden in Jewish law."

"You can't permit a call to action that would violate a halakhic prohibition to occur at a religious university. Holding a demonstration.... is saying that we are in favor... On the contrary, and don't misunderstand me, but if a group were to come and say 'We believe in pedophilia, in allowing sex with minors, and we want to hold a happening'... Any call to break the law is problematic and these are the laws of the Torah," Zisovich said. "Just think what would happen if a religious university were called upon to hold an event for some organization that calls for a certain law to be broken."

The decision by the university has sparked a government response. Member of the Knesset Miki Rosenthal of the Zionist Union party called for an discussion in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

"It cannot be that an academic institution in the State of Israel will promote homophobic policies," Rosenthal said. "The issue demands immediate investigation, which is why I called for an emergency discussion in the Knesset plenum today."


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