Israelis defy religious protests to stage gay rally in Jerusalem

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Israel's gay community braved opposition from religious fundamentalists and held a large rally in Jerusalem yesterday, complete with live music, dancing and declarations of pride.

The event, which was originally planned as a march through the city, was held at a university sports stadium on the city's outskirts after its organisers bowed to police fears of violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews. Nearly 4,000 were at the stadium, about the same number as attended last year's gay pride march in the city, where Jewish, Muslim and Christian opposition to the events runs high.

Police said that 3,000 officers were deployed for security. Five protesters, some armed with knives, were arrested during a scuffle with gay activists. Another was arrested after calling out homophobic remarks in the stadium. At last year's march an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed and wounded three participants.

This year, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews battled police and set fire to vehicles to protest against the planned march.AP