The Israeli online news website, YNet, is claiming that WorldPride will be moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

Unnamed police officials have told the website that the change in venue in very likely to happen, although apparently the “final decision has not (officially) been made yet”.

The official reason given for moving the parade is that the Jerusalem Police fear that they will not be able to cope with the “size and complexity of the event”, the website claims.

It quotes a police officer as saying that “Tel Aviv is more used to such events, and therefore it should take place there also this time”.

Given that the bustling capital Jerusalem is regularly host to a complex mixture of public and political events, this seems a strange reason for moving the WorldPride march. Political and religious back-stage wrangling is more likely to be the cause of any possible change of city.

The Trade and Labour Minister Eli Yishai said that there was “an issue of freedom of expression, but on the other hand there is also the public’s benefit.” He said that he supported the idea of moving it to another city because “leaders of the three religions are against it.”

This proposed city change has sparked heated debate on message boards and in chat rooms. Avi from Jerusalem was disappointed that the event might be relocated; “I think the point is that there are a lot of homosexuals out there who are being terrorised by their communities. The Gay pride shows them that there are others too who are of the same inclination and it is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“This is exactly analogous to the status of Jews, especially those living in a minority”.

However, not all comments have been so tolerant of the WorldPride. One writer suggested, “change venue to Sedom and Gomorrah”! While Robert in Jerusalem said, “I am a secular Jew and oppose this offence to public morals … I wish more people opposed it in Tel Aviv too, but I also wish horses had wings”

“The abandoning of our gay brothers and sisters by ordinary people in Jerusalem to the hysterical ranting of the so called religious will come back to haunt us all,” Avi predicted.

“In our free society, sexual preferences are no one’s business, least of all the corrupt religious establishment and their blind followers. If people are homosexual, that is their choice and we must accept them as such. Although none of us are homosexual, our family is planning to join the march as a mark of solidarity”

This development comes amid a rage of protest over the event. It has united religious Jews, Christians and Muslims, who have spoken put against the parade and are arranging a counter “Modesty Parade.”

Most recently, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar wrote to Pope Benedict XVI asking for his condemnation, he said: “We ask your Excellency to issue an emotional, strong, and unequivocal call against this horrible phenomenon, in the hope that the amalgamation of protests being voiced by religious leaders… will prevent the wilful wrongdoers to damage and corrupt the ways of humanity.”

An Arab member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), Ibrahim Sarsur, said: ” If gays will dare approach the Temple Mount during the parade, they will do so over our dead bodies.”

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch of the ultra-orthodox Beth Din (religious court) said: “this parade poses a real threat to the citizens of Israel.”

The UK Coordinator of World Pride, told PinkNews.co.uk in reaction to calls for the abandonment of the event, “World Pride 2006 is a call for freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to be different, and tolerance. It seeks to embrace diversity, and is adamant that it will address and raise awareness of all forms of discrimination and injustice.

“We hope others will see their own specific struggles reflected in the struggle of LGBT people around the world and come and participate in this rallying cry for peace.”

The last World Pride was held in 2000 in Rome, with the disapproval of the Vatican.

Jerusalem WorldPride runs from August 6-12 2006.