Last Update: Friday, November 10, 2006. 11:00pm (AEDT)
A few thousand gays and their supporters rallied in Jerusalem on Friday under heavy security, going ahead with a festival that has sparked religious protests and highlighted deep divisions in Israeli society.
Gays, lesbians and civil rights activists, many waving rainbow flags that represent gay pride, passed through tight police security checks to enter a stadium where the rally was taking place. Dance music echoed inside.
Organisers had planned a gay pride street parade but cancelled it after police said they needed to beef up security to guard against threatened Palestinian attacks following a deadly Israeli army shelling attack in Gaza this week.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews had also threatened to disrupt the march through the holy city.
There have been nightly protests in Jerusalem's religious neighbourhoods against the parade.
"Why are they pushing us back in the closet? There is more than one way to be a Jew," said Yossi Gilad, 36, from Tel Aviv, who works for a non-governmental organisation.
One woman held a banner that read: "I am a proud Jewish lesbian".
There were a few minor scuffles between right-wing opponents of the event and activists elsewhere in the city but little violence, police said.
Police rounded up several gay activists who tried to hold a street march and took them to the stadium.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 3,000 police were securing the event.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews and other protesters would not be allowed in to the stadium, he added. Ultra-Orthodox Jews view homosexuality as an abomination.
"Last night the rabbis agreed there would not be any disturbances," Mr Rosenfeld said.
"Still, the police will be prepared to deal with any outbreaks and disturbances of violence meant to disrupt the event."
Police set up checkpoints along all routes to the stadium. Many roads were also blocked.
The move to hold the rally in the Givat Ram stadium came after Palestinian vows to revenge Israel's shelling of a northern Gaza town on Wednesday, which killed 18 civilians.
Israel said the carnage was the result of a "technical failure" by Israeli artillery. The army had said it was targeting rocket launchers.
The ultra-Orthodox and many other Israelis had seen the planned march in Jerusalem as a provocation against religion.
Debate about the march had also exposed deep fissures in Israeli society, caught between its vocal religious community and a desire to be seen as progressive and "modern".
Gay pride festivals have been held each year in Jerusalem since 2001, but this year's was billed as being bigger and better, causing greater outrage than before.
Organisers say the event promotes understanding, tolerance and open-mindedness.
The festival had been scheduled for August but was postponed because of Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.