Jerusalem - A member of Israel's religious Shas Party told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that homosexuality is an epidemic and should be dealt with like the Health Ministry deals with bird flu.
Nissim Ze'ev was speaking in support of a bill that would give the city of Jerusalem the power to ban public events that "insult religious values and public feelings."
He said that gays should be forced into "rehabilitation" in the same way as drug addicts and alcoholics.
"It wasn't a coincidence that the bible compared homosexual relations with bestiality and sentenced to death those who were caught performing it," Ze'ev said.
The bill before the Knesset's Legislative Committee would allow city officials in Jerusalem to ban gay pride. The Orthodox Shas Party has tried for several years to get pride marches blocked.
Knesset member Gal-On said the remarks by Ze'ev showed "great ignorance".
The Association of Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders - AGUDAH - said that if the bill passes it would turn the city into "the international capital of darkness."
Last June, moments before the gay pride march was to begin in Jerusalem police arrested a man carrying a homemade bomb. Police said the 32 year old said he planned to detonate it near the parade route to scare people away. (story)
The arrest was one of nearly 200 as members of the haredi, an ultra-Orthodox sect, rioted for several days leading up to the parade. Garbage cans were set on fire and stones thrown at police. Twenty-two officers were reportedly injured.
Some 7000 police - many brought in from other cities - were stationed along the gay pride parade route, far outnumbering the the marchers estimated at about 1000.
At one point police routed about 500 haredim armed with eggs and bags of excrement. At another point on the parade route, only a few blocks long, protestors tried to pour cooking oil on the road so marchers would slip and fall.
The 2006 pride march was cancelled following a week of rioting in Jerusalem by the haredi.
Thousands of sect members took to the streets for a week, setting fires and injuring more than a dozen people.
Instead of holding a march Open House held a pride concert and celebration at Hebrew University where anyone entering the grounds was checked by police. (story) There were no incidents.
In 2005 the parade was marred by violence. More than a than a dozen protestors were arrested and three people were stabbed.
Almost 1,000 protestors lined the parade route. Bottles of urine and bags containing feces were hurled at marchers.
Shortly after the parade began Shai Schlissel, a haredi member, rushed into the marchers on Ben Yehuda Street stabbing a man and a woman.
Others in the parade attempted to subdue him. The third victim was a marcher who went to the aid of the other two victims. (story) Schlissel is in prison for the attack.