Two Thousand Protest in Be'er Sheva Over Police Decision to Ban Gay Pride Parade

The protest is taking place instead of a gay pride parade that was canceled after the police refused to permit it to take place on the city's main thoroughfare – Rager Blvd.

The LGBT protest in Be'er Sheva, July 14, 2016.
Eliyahu Hershkovich

Nearly 2,000 protesters took part in a demonstration outside Be'er Sheva's city hall Thursday, protesting the police's decision not to permit a gay pride parade (scheduled for today) to march on the southern city's main thoroughfare.

The protesters chanted slogans such as "The south in pink, want money and respect," "Homophobia takes over and city hall is silent," and "Deri Deri there's no way – You won't dictate who we love."

The protest is taking place instead of a gay pride parade that was canceled after the police refused to permit it to take place on the city's main thoroughfare – Rager Blvd.

Hundreds of officers, dozens of patrol cars and police dogs are being deployed. Officers have taken position on nearby roofs.

The police spokesman issued a statement saying: "Only the public interest is influencing the police's decisions, finding the correct point of balance between the right to free expression and protest and keeping the public peace, safety and property."

Be'er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich commented on the subject Thursday, saying that he thinks that the police should have permitted the parade to take place on Regar Boulevard, but fell short of criticizing the police: "I don't want to go into the police's professional decision making, the police put in plenty of effort to allow them to do so, but generally speaking once they wanted to march, they should have been permitted to do so, even on a major thoroughfare."

Minister of Religious Services David Azoulay spoke out on the subject during a conference in the city Thursday calling the organizers "a group of irregulars," charging that they were trying to "orchestrate a revolution." According to the religious news website Kikar Hashabat he praised the city's chief rabbi for his steadfast resistance to the parade.

On Wednesday, the Be’er Sheva police detained several people from the city’s LGBT community.

Also on Wednesday, the High Court of Justice denied a petition against a police decision to divert a gay pride parade in Be'er Sheva from the city's main thoroughfare.

In their ruling, the justices wrote that they were convinced that intelligence reports on potential violence at the parade presented to them by the police justified at least a partial diversion of the parade from the Negev city's Rager Boulevard.