Bar Ilan University, Israel's second-largest academic institution, has refused to permit an event promoting homosexuality on campus.
The head of the gay students' group at Bar Ilan, Omer Mahluf, met Tuesday with the Bar Ilan Students' Dean, Prof. Uri Nir, and filed a formal request to hold a “happening” on June 22, in the campus's central square. The group said that the event would be held in a way that respected the university's religious-Zionist character and would focus on passing out information brochures to religious students – “for many of whom, the university is one of the only life stations in which they can experience unmediated contact with homosexuals and lesbians.”
The dean made clear that the event was forbidden, as was the passing out of written materials. The most the university was willing to agree to, he said, would be a closed session in an auditorium, with a list of speakers that had been approved by the university.
Mahluf said that there is great importance in holding a public event, because many homosexual students who are not yet at peace with their sexual orientation will otherwise be afraid to approach the activity.
The university said in response that “taking into account the university's religious character, and in view of the fact that the event the students wanted to hold is not connected to academic or studential activity, the management informed the students that it will allow an event of an academic nature to be held in one of the campus auditoriums – a panel or study day – that will deal with the relevant issues for the gay community.”