Thousands Attend Jerusalem Pride Parade Under Heavy Police Protection

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People attending the annual Pride Parade in Jerusalem.
People attending the annual Pride Parade in Jerusalem.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Thousands took part Thursday in the Jerusalem Pride Parade, which was held under heavy police protection.

The parade, which has been held in Jerusalem every year since 2002, usually faces protests from the extreme right and the ultra-Orthodox.

Thousands of police officers escorted the marchers. Dozens of members of Lehava and other radical-right organizations protested against the march at its starting point, after they called on their activists to protest under the slogan “Jerusalem is not Sodom.” 

Dozens of right-wing activists and visibly religious people said the police had arrested them without reason during the march, according to the right-wing NGO Honenu. Honenu reported that it had received dozens of complaints by visibly religious people, including minors, saying they were detained or arrested on suspicion of disturbing the public order in Jerusalem during the march. Some were arrested at checkpoints between the West Bank and Jerusalem, the lawyer representing those who were arrested said. Detectives also showed up at the home of activist Itamar Sassover, spokesman for Lehava, to warn him not to take part in protests against the march. 

On Wednesday, a Jerusalem resident was arrested on suspicion that he had threatened to kill participants in the city’s annual LGBTQ pride parade. 

Partipants in the Jerusalem Pride parade, Thursday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The police arrested the man in the midst of a quarrel, he said he was planning to kill parade participants. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended his remand until Friday. 

In 2015, teenager Shira Banki was murdered at the parade. Participants in this year's march left flowers at a memorial dedicated to her. Last year, the parade was canceled because of the coronavirus.

Police also arrested two 17-year-olds who put up anti-LGBTQ posters around the city.

The parade started at 2:30 P.M. in Liberty Bell Park, with participants marching to Independence Park. On the way, a memorial ceremony was held at the site of Banki’s murder.

Noam Yavin, chairwoman of Open House Jerusalem, the main LGBTQ rights group in Jerusalem, spoke at the event kicking off the march at the park, saying: "The counter-protests and derogatory statements by extremists won't sway us from the goal we are working toward, which is to raise a flag of change for Jerusalem and to bring out the LGBTQ community in the city."

EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret also spoke at the event.

"We will continue defending human rights of LGBTIQ persons & promote equality and respect for diversity," Giaufret said. 

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