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Jerusalem Mayor asks Gay Community for Reciprocal Tolerance on Eve of March

The annual Jerusalem Gay Pride march will take place on Thursday against a backdrop of heightened scrutiny due in large part to gay rights developments in the United States and because the Jerusalem march will be the first since last year’s tragic murder of a 16-year old parade participant by an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemite opposed to homosexuality. Nevertheless, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has forged an unusual position for the head of a major city. On Tuesday he told the Yediot Aharonot daily newspaper that while as mayor he did everything necessary to accommodate the wishes of the LGBT community to express itself through a parade, “I won’t march because I don’t want to be part of the harm to the ultra-Orthodox public and the Religious-Zionist public.” According to Barkat, while his city is doing everything necessary to accommodate the event, “[the LGBT community] need to know that this hurts others…Tolerance is not just letting people march; it’s also looking for the way to get what you want without offending others’ opinions or others’ feelings. In Jerusalem, there’s a large population who has a really hard time with the parade.” Asked about the symbolic importance of the city’s mayor marching in support of the cause, Barkat responded that both communities deserve respect. “The gay-lesbian community needs to be considerate, just like the gay-lesbian community demands that the ultra-Orthodox and religious community be considerate.”