Some 5,000 people took to the streets of Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon for 12th annual gay pride parade.The event included a march from Independence Park in the center of the city to the Knesset rose garden, where it concluded.
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Hundreds of police and border police officers were on hand to provide security for the parade. Streets on the route of the march were closed, and parking was banned for the entire length of the route throughout the day.
The theme of this year's event is "We want change." The aim this year, according to Elinor Sidi, director the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, was to demand that elected officials push for legislation that is supportive of the LGBT community.
"We in the gay community have had enough of talk and promises," she said. "Among the entire range of rights and freedoms at the disposal of the members of the LGBT community, only a minority of them have been accomplished through the Knesset. The vast majority were adopted though the High Court of Justice and the courts. Pro-LGBT legislation is still rare and elected officials are refusing to address demands for equality [for LGBT] couples, leaving it to the Supreme Court to do the work for them."
In advance of Thursday's parade, activists repainted the sign at the main highway entrance to Jerusalem from the west with the colors of the rainbow flag. In recent years, the parade has passed off relatively quietly. With the exception of small counter-demonstrations, the event has not engendered ultra-Orthodox or right-wing protests. At the 2005 parade, three participants were stabbed by Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem man, who was 40 at the time.