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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jerusalem Gay Stabbing Victim Blames Negative Publicity

Sheera Claire Frenkel in The Jerusalem Post

Police arrested and were holding in custody a 30-year-old ultra-Orthodox male in connection with Thursday night's stabbing of three people at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post Adam Russo, one of the victims of the stabbings, described the incident as "totally unexpected."

"I was walking with pride, waving my [rainbow] flag and shouting 'freedom' and 'pluralism,'" said Russo. "All of a sudden I felt something striking me, at first I hadn't realized what had happened and I tried to detain him, then I noticed I had been stabbed."

Russo, 18, had been attending the parade with several friends when the stabbing happened. One of the other victims, an 18-year-old female, was his friend and had been walking besides him when the attacker ran into the crowd. The female and a second male were expected to be released from Shaarei Tzedek Hospital Sunday morning, while Adam, whose condition was declared as stable, expects to leave the hospital later in the week.

"I hope they send the attacker to jail for a long time," said Russo. "He is a fanatic, and all I can do is feel bad for him because he is clearly brainwashed against homosexuals."

Police estimated that a record 5,000 people attended the 4th annual Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade on Thursday.

It was the first time that violence had broken out at a Gay Pride Parade in Israel, Police noted. The parade narrowly avoided cancellation after Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski attempted to block the event, but the Jerusalem District Court ordered the city to permit the annual parade. Many said that the controversy surrounding this year's parade may have contributed to the violence.

"I think [the stabbing] happened because this year the mayor of Jerusalem tried to cancel the parade and brought negative attention to the whole thing," said Russo. "I am the type of person who respects Judaism and Jewish thought – but you can take it in negative directions and one of those directions was taken by the attacker last week."

Russo, who has been openly gay to his family since the age of 14, and to the public since age 16, said he felt homophobia has been decreasing in the secular community in Israel.

"When I came out many people were surprised and shocked because I don't appear to look or act according to the gay stereotype," said Russo. "I defy homosexual stereotypes and often, when people who are homophobic meet me, they drop their negative opinions about what it means to be gay."