After weathering religious disapproval and arson, the only gay and lesbian bar in Jerusalem closes this week.
Shushan, which has served customers for four years, contained the unlikely sight of drag queens mixing with Palestinians and Orthodox Jews.
Yan Carmel, a 21-year-old student at Hebrew University, told The Times: “Shushan was one of the few places where we could feel that we were in a free world.”
Gil Naveh, a 24-year-old, added: “I’ve met three boyfriends there and each time was magical. There was the time I got proposed to outside Shushan, right in front of everyone.”
Gays and lesbians frequently face violence and religious hatred in Jerusalem.
Two years ago the Shushan was attacked by arsonists. Nobody was hurt and the incident helped galvanise its small community.
This year, World Pride, a worldwide gathering of the LGBT community, was opposed by a group of Israelis, Arabs, and Palestinians.
Arab-Israeli sheik and MK Ibrahim Sarsur, said: “If they (gays) will dare to approach the Temple Mount during the parade, they will do so over our dead bodies.”
Two days before the event, a ‘modesty march’ was held by Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak of Shofar, an orthodox group promoting a “return to religion.”
Rabbi Yitzhak said of his march: “Its very occurrence will denunciate the abomination and defilement, will vomit out its participants from among us and will set fire to their infection.”
Regulars looking for a new place to socialise may now be forced to travel to the more liberal Tel Aviv, some 60 miles away, which has several gay bars and clubs.