PinkNews.co.uk Exclusive

Gays and lesbians are welcome in Israel but the issue of WorldPride should be left open to debate, the country’s Tourism Minister announced last night.

Isaac Herzog was unveiling a campaign for ThinkIsrael.com at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium last night, encouraging people to visit the “Holy land” of Israel.

Speaking to PinkNews.co.uk ahead of this Friday’s scheduled WorldPride march, Mr Herzog said there is no reason why there cannot be a debate on the issue.

The parade has fostered opposition from Israeli politicians and ultra-orthodox Jews who have threatened “holy war” against participants.

Many of the protests centre around the parade being held in Israeli capital Jerusalem, most recently Russian Israeli billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak, offered money to organisers Jerusalem Open House, for them to relocate the march to a different location.

Mr Herzog told PinkNews.co.uk: “We are a pluralistic society where people can debate.

“In Tel Aviv you have every year a gay pride parade. To have 250,000 people in a religious city like Jerusalem there will be people with lots of other feelings, even some gay community leaders said it doesn’t’t necessarily have to be carried out in Jerusalem.”

The minister said he is a supporter of gay rights having backed housing laws for the community, but he refused to give a definitive stance on WorldPride, “I’m happy for people to visit Israel, as for the march itself I am leaving it to the High Court to decide the parameters.

He was representing Israel at the World Travel Market week, a tourism industry event.