In a first since it was organized eight years ago, the route of today's annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem will end in front of the Knesset.
More than 1,500 police officers and border police will be on hand to provide security for the march, which will proceed from Independence Park in the center of the city to a rally near the rose garden opposite the parliament building.
"We will be marking the end of a year of mourning and the beginning of a year that we are calling 'Gay Community Rights Year,'" said the director general of Jerusalem's Open House gay community center, Yonatan Gher. The march comes a year after a shooting at a gay community youth center in Tel Aviv that killed two people.
"Over the stage, we will display all the places where we are discriminated against and our work plan designed to change the [situation], and we will call for the establishment of a gay lobby in the Knesset. That is our hope, that we will take the first step toward full equality," he said.
According to Gher, in contrast with other years, this year's parade will be a demonstration of the power of the entire gay community in Israel and not only members of the Jerusalemite LGBT community.
In the course of the rally, an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will read greetings from the Prime Minister and will then recognize the mother of one of those killed in the Tel Aviv gay community center shooting, Nir Katz.
The marchers are scheduled to assemble at Independence Park at 4:30 P.M. and will begin the procession to the Knesset at 6 P.M. The rally opposite the Knesset is scheduled for 8 P.M.
Jerusalem police have asked motorists to avoid the downtown area during the march due to concerns about traffic congestion.
A parking ban will remain in effect along the parade route from 8 A.M. until 10 P.M. today. Streets along the route will be intermittently closed to traffic from the time the march commences. The police said they would deal firmly with any attempt to disrupt the parade.
Israel Police Commissioner David Cohen said yesterday that there are still no leads on who was responsible for the shooting at the Tel Aviv gay community center.
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