Heads of Israeli Gay Pride Parade Appeal Police Restrictions That Put March in Doubt

Organizers blast police demands such as putting up a 2-meter-high fence along the route, claim they are 'fundamentally illegal'

People participating in Jerusalem's gay pride parade in 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

The organizers of the gay pride parade in Kfar Sava, together with the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association (“the Agudah”), filed a petition in the High Court of Justice Sunday after police demanded the construction of a 2-meter-high fence along the entire route as a condition for holding the march.

The parade in the Tel Aviv suburb is scheduled for Friday. The organizers called the police demands “onerous and fundamentally illegal.”

Last week Haaretz reported that the police placed several demands on the organizers of the event, planned for a circular route of around 750 meters. In addition to enclosing the entire route in a high fence, these included blocking the adjacent intersections with trucks or buses – all at the organizers’ expense.

In explaining its decision, the police cited the “sensitivity” of the event and the need to protect the marches. The Kfar Sava branch of Israel Gay Youth, which is organizing the event, argued that the police do not have the authority to make a parade permit conditional on the fulfillment of the demands, which it said were illegal.

That is the argument outlined in the petition to the High Court, according to which the financial and bureaucratic burden being placed by the police on the teenagers who are putting the march together violates their right to freedom of expression.

This burden, says the petition, “places a ‘price tag’ on expression and protest that diverges from the consensus and plays into the hands of violent and hostile elements that threaten the lives and physical well-being of the march participants.”

The petition, which was submitted by Sapir Slutzker-Amran, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, went on to say that the police “have a duty to guarantee the exercise of the right to protest and to bear the full expense of security arrangements. The gay community has a right to make its voice heard with pride. ... The demand for payment constitutes a ‘sanction’ and in effect rewards violence and bullying that aim to silence opinion.”

Slutzker-Aman added that in demanding that the young marchers pay tens of thousands of shekels in order to protect themselves, “the police are giving a prize to those who want to put them back in the closet. We shall not let the march be canceled.”