Defending columnist Howard Palmer’s anti-gay pride column in last week’s Jewish News, editor Zeddy Lawrence today told PinkNews.co.uk that it was simply reflecting a view held by a large sector of the Jewish community and that his comments do not reflect the newspaper’s stance.
Gay British Jewry reacted with outrage this week after Palmer’s column described the upcoming gay pride march in Jerusalem as “a circus of stomach-churning stunts of sin.”
He went on to call for its cancellation as the Jewish people should be different from other nations and not endorse events like this which he sees as “profane and frankly disgusting.”
Mr Lawrence said: “He was not being anti-gay as such but questioning whether this kind of thing was suitable…It is an issue that affects the Jewish community and this is the orthodox view. Howard was not having a go at the idea of homosexuality just having the parade in Jerusalem.”
The editor went on to explain that after receiving Palmer’s column “we immediately knew that we would be putting in another piece in order to get an opposing view… It is being given just as much space as it is only fair to put across the other side.” This re-buff has appeared in this week’s Jewish News.
The response to the column by the gay Jewish community, however, showed that it had been interpreted as deeply anti-gay. Karen Newman of the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group told PinkNews.co.uk: “Language such as ‘disgusting’, ‘stomach churning’ etc is a direct incitement to homophobic people to attack lesbians and gay men. Palmer will bear a clear responsibility for actions resulting from people being inspired by his words to go out and do a bit of gay-bashing.”
Gay Rabbi Mark Solomon, who is to participate in WorldPride which includes an inter-faith meeting within it added, “Presumably [Palmer] would be right there with the Orthodox fanatic who was convicted for stabbing people at last year’s Jerusalem gay pride, or those who threw excrement or those who have called this year for the killing of the Sodomites.”
The LGBT Jewish student group BaGeLs joined the protests in a strongly worded email to the Jewish News. They told PinkNews.co.uk: “If his argument is based on anything it is that the world is laughing at the Jewish people for having a gay pride march.
“If anything, that Israel is the one country in the Middle East to support LGBT rights and allow a march like this to go ahead, is something the Jewish people can be deeply proud of. Far from being a laughing stock amongst the nations as Palmer puts it, we are truly being a light unto them.”
In an email the Jewish Gay and Lesbian group encouraged its members to write letters and speak out against these sentiments.
Marred by controversy and endangered by the Middle East crisis, WorldPride is still due to run from 6 – 12 August 2006.