Israeli LGBT Activist Sues Police for False Arrest

The 26-year-old was arrested in the run-up to a protest against a decision blocking Be'er Sheva's annual gay pride parade.

Over 25,000 march in Jerusalem gay pride parade. July 21, 2016.
Anna Loshkin

A 26-year-old man from Be’er Sheva is suing the police for false arrest after he was detained last month before a protest by the city’s gay community.

Members of Be’er Sheva’s LGBT community were protesting after the police would not let their annual parade take place down the city’s main thoroughfare. The plaintiff, whose first name is Shlomi, is demanding 15,000 shekels ($3,977) in compensation.

Shlomi, who requested that his last name not be used, is claiming compensation from the police for invasion of privacy, violation of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, false arrest and police negligence.

“This incident seriously impinged on the plaintiff’s dignity, illustrated to him in a particularly harsh fashion that he was detained because he was a member of the gay community, and upset the plaintiff’s delicate emotional balance,” the suit states.

According to the suit, on July 13, the day before the protest, three policemen came to Shlomi’s parents’ home and told them he was wanted for questioning. At 7:40 P.M., Shlomi received a call from the police summoning him to the police station.

When he arrived, he was told he was wanted for making threats and was put in a cell for more than two hours until he was taken for questioning. The police investigator told him she had no idea why he had been summoned and that “this was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen at the station.”

According to Shlomi, the investigator also told him he had been called in because of what he had told other members of an LGBT WhatsApp group. In any case, Shlomi was released without restrictions.

According to the lawsuit, on July 20, a policeman who identified himself as Maurice called Shlomi and asked him if he was planning to attend Jerusalem’s gay pride parade, which was scheduled for the following day. Shlomi said he wasn’t going, but the policeman nevertheless warned him not to attend, even though Shlomi had been released the previous week without restrictions.

On July 13, the High Court of Justice held a hearing in response to a petition against the decision to keep the parade off the city’s Rager Boulevard. At the hearing, the police said they had intelligence on threats to the marchers.

The justices were persuaded that the threats were valid and did not intervene in the police’s decision. As of now, only three people are known to have been detained. The police, claiming that their evidence is classified, refuse to say how many people were arrested or detained as a result of the intelligence and what sanctions were imposed.

The police said they would address the lawsuit when they received it.

“We must note that the issue of holding the pride parade in Be’er Sheva in its planned format was already adjudicated in the High Court of Justice, which accepted the police’s position and ruled on the matter based on sensitive intelligence information, about which we naturally cannot give details,” the police said in a statement.

“All the police actions and decisions before the march and during [the demonstration] were made with constant thought and based on the proper balance between freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate on one side, and protection of the public’s well-being and security on the other.”