An Israeli gay rights campaigner has criticised the country’s Tourism Minister for not opposing violence against tomorrow’s gay pride march in Jerusalem, while tension builds before the event with vigils being held along with calls for calm.

Speaking at a World Travel Market event this week, Israel’s Minister for Tourism, Isaac Herzog, encouraged holidaymakers to visit the country, telling PinkNews.co.uk that there are no problems with gays and lesbians coming.

However, he refused to condemn protests by religious groups and politicians against the march, claiming there should be a debate on the issue.

Yoav Sivan, a member of Aguda, the Israeli LGBT Association, said the minister should stand against violence, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “His call for welcoming LGBT tourists in Israel is void: doesn’t he think that LGBT people would like to feel welcome in Jerusalem as well? Don’t he think that he must oppose the violence against LGBT people?”

It comes as Israel’s gay community prepares for tomorrow’s controversial gay pride march in the capital Jerusalem. Police are fearing violence from protesters including ultra-orthodox Jews, which has been condemned by the international Jewish gay community.

In the UK, gay rabbis have arranged a vigil outside the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho to express solidarity, a statement said: “We need to visibly show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel.

“Therefore, to coincide with the conclusion of the Jerusalem Pride March, we will be holding a peaceful vigil for approximately 30 minutes in the heart of London’s Gay Village next to the Admiral Duncan Pub, Old Compton Street, Soho at 1030 GMT this Friday 10th November.

“Our location is particularly significant because it was rebuilt following a homophobic bombing in 1999 where 3 people were killed and over 100 injured.

Their support was echoed by the gay Jewish community in the US, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the North American co­ chair of WorldPride and leader of the world’s largest synagogue serving Jews of all sexual orientations and gender identities said: “Once again, hatred of gays and lesbians is uniting a group of people who usually have nothing good to say about each other.

“Religious leaders from fundamentalist Orthodox Judaism, Islam and Christianity are finding common ground in homophobia and religious bigotry. They have turned a gay pride march into a war against gay people.”

“We firmly believe that tolerance is holy and that local GLBT groups, whether they are in

The march, organised by Jerusalem Open House is scheduled for 1100 tomorrow morning.