Police sanction Gay Pride march in Jerusalem for June 21

Police gave approval Wednesday for a Gay Pride march in downtown Jerusalem later this month, despite vocal and potentially violent opposition from ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Jerusalem police commander Ilan Franco informed "Open House," the Jerusalem gay center, that he approved a march June 21 past the historic King David hotel to a large park nearby, where the gays will be allowed to hold a gathering, the statement said.

It also said that 7,000 police will be mobilized to protect the marchers, because efforts to reach a compromise over the gay gathering failed. Ultra-Orthodox Jews will be permitted to stage their own demonstration in a different part of the city, and police will keep the two groups separated, the police statement said.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, quoting biblical verses calling homosexual activity an "abomination," object to holding a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, because the city is holy to the three main monotheistic religions.

Franco noted that if the security situation changes, Wednesday's decision could be changed.

Last year police approved only a gathering of gays in a city soccer stadium. A year earlier an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed and wounded three gays during their march in the center of the city.

On Wednesday, ultra-Orthodox Jews rioted in their largest neighborhood in the center of Jerusalem, throwing rocks at police.