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  WINDY CITY TIMES

GLBTs MARCH WORLDWIDE
Marchers Stabbed in Jerusalem
by REX WOCKNER
2005-07-06

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Pictured Panama's first gay-pride parade. Wockner News Service photos. Pride in Edinburgh, Scotland. Wockner News photo by Seumas Macmhicean/ScotsGay

With pride season in full swing, gays and lesbians have taken to the streets worldwide — including in Panama and Greece for the first time.

The marches proceeded without incident except in Jerusalem, where a religious homophobe stabbed three marchers, and hundreds of protesters pelted marchers with bottles of urine and bags of feces.

About 500 people marched in the first large-scale gay-pride parade in Athens.

'The only way to safeguard our rights is for everyone to understand that homosexuality is a reality and that people should not behave as if we don't exist,' marcher Maria Gouma told The Scotsman newspaper.

About 300,000 people turned out for pride in Paris. The procession snaked from the Montparnasse train station to the Bastille.

The parade was so massive that some marchers waited hours to step off from the Left Bank starting point.

About 250 people marched in Kolkata ( Calcutta ) , India, 'dressed in gaudy, revealing clothes,' said Rediff.com .

Police made no effort to halt the parade even though homosexuality is illegal.

'We want to tell the world we exist,' said Teesta, a 27-year-old student.

More than 125,000 people turned out for Toronto's 25th parade—including Police Chief Bill Blair.

According to CTV.ca, 'The parade showcased everything from bronzed, scantily clad dancers gyrating on floats to pounding dance music to the more sedate groups, like Grandparents for Gays and Lesbians.'

Mayor David Miller told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: 'To me, it sums up so much of what Toronto is about. Everyone's welcome here, everyone's respected. We're very proud we're the place where same-sex marriage, the first one [ in Canada ] , was performed.'

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police marched for the first time, including two female officers holding hands, the CBC said.

About 4,000 people marched in Edinburgh, Scotland—from Waverley Station, down Princes Street to the Gay Village.

Asked what happened after the parade, Pride Scotia ( Edinburgh ) Convener John Hein said, 'Lots of people got very drunk, a few went to the Health and Community Fair, and then there was a big loud-popular-noise thing called Ocean Pride held from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Ocean Terminal.'

Panama saw its first gay-pride parade June 25. About 70 people marched, with at least an equal number walking along on the sidewalks, out of view of media cameras.

Six newspapers, five radio stations, two TV stations and numerous Web sites covered the parade.

'For being our first-ever march, that was quite a turnout—definitely beyond what we were expecting,' said Javier Rodríguez of the New Men and Women Association of Panama, which organized the parade.

'This, for me, is the first time that I've been able to gauge an actual 'gay community' in Panama,' Rodríguez said. 'All these years, everyone's been talking about such a community. To me, it had never existed until now. ... This is the first time that the different actors—from the clubs to the boutique to the bathhouse to the bars to the Web sites—have responded to the call of one actor, our group, and joined efforts to make something, anything, happen!'

At the end of the parade, 600 balloons were released—100 for each color of the rainbow flag.

The atmosphere was less festive in Jerusalem, where an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed three marchers during the city's fourth gay-pride parade, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The attack occurred at Ben Yehuda and Hahistradrut streets.

A woman was stabbed in the arm; a man was stabbed in the arm, hand and chest; and a third marcher received a minor injury. All three were taken to Bikur Holim Hospital. Two were treated and released. Adam David Russo was moved to Shaare Zedek Medical Center where he is recovering from deep gashes to his arm, the back of his hand and his chest.

'They tried to murder me because I'm gay,' Russo told the Haaretz newspaper. 'In the ambulance I thought I wouldn't dare set foot again in Jerusalem. Now I've calmed down, but I still think I won't go downtown alone. On the other hand, now I view my community activism almost as a mission, so I want to stand out.'

Yishai Schlissel, 30, was arrested for the attack and police say others may have been involved.

Separately, police arrested 13 religious Jews who tried to block the march. More than 1,000 people demonstrated against the parade—throwing bottles of urine and bags of feces at the marchers, the Post said.

Mayor Uri Lupolianski had tried to prevent the parade, which drew about 10,000 marchers, but he was thwarted by the Jerusalem District Court.

Gay activists blamed Lupolianski's 'incitement' for the violence.

Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz agreed, saying, 'The heads of the Jerusalem municipality should self-reflect on their contribution to the incitement leading up to today's violence.'


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