Bar-Ilan U., LGBT students agree on Gay Pride Week event

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Bar-Ilan University and its LGBT student community reached an agreement to hold a Gay Pride Month event days after the university said it would bar such an event on its Tel Aviv-area campus.

The event scheduled for Sunday will be organized “in such a way that would respect both the special character of the University, as well as the right of LGBT students to speak out and fight for equal rights,” the Bar-Ilan University Student Union, the LGBT student community and the university’s administration said Thursday in a joint statement.

Bar-Ilan is a public university but has a religious mission and a disproportionately Orthodox student body.

Haim Zisovich, the university spokesman, had said that allowing a gay pride event would be comparable to permitting a program that encouraged pedophilia, Haaretz reported Wednesday. Zisovich later apologized.

“The example I gave of a legal violation was stupid in this context. I apologize for using it,” he said, according to Haaretz. “But to anyone who would have heard the conversation, it would be clear that I was not comparing.”

The university issued a statement saying that its spokesman “clarified that the statements quoted and attributed to him were false, and he apologized for any harm this caused to members of the gay community.”

Omer Machluf, head of the LGBT student community, accepted the Zisovich apology and said he believes that the spokesman’s comments were taken out of context, according to the statement.

Machluf said he welcomed the university’s decision to allow the gay pride event to take place on campus and to allow the LGBT community at the university proper and respectable expression.

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