Jerusalem Municipality inspectors removed on Tuesday a pro-LGBTQ banner put up by the U.S. Embassy in the city, but the embassy said in a statement it will be rehung on the fence surrounding the compound in central Jerusalem.
Embassy staff put up the banner, which reads “pride” in several languages and bears the colors of the Pride flag, as they do every year during Pride month. Similar banners and flags were also hung at the embassy’s Tel Aviv office.
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Inspectors were dispatched by Deputy Mayor Arieh King , who is among several city council members holding that title. Staff complied with his demand to remove the banner, even though it was unclear whether the municipality had the authority to order it. “With all due respect, the U.S. Embassy doesn’t enjoy any privileges that the mayor or any resident for that matter don’t have,” King argued. “If they want to put up a banner, they have to file a request.”
The embassy said in a statement that “The PRIDE sign will be rehung as soon as possible on the Embassy property,” pending talks with the municipality. It added: “The United States is committed to protecting LGBTI and other marginalized communities around the world. All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and are endowed with the same unalienable rights.”
Councilman Yosi Havilio, who hung a Pride flag on his city hall office in protest over the incident, said that “[o]nce again, Arieh King is bringing shame to the Jerusalem Municipality. Instead of sending a message of support to the LGBTQ community, the city does the opposite.”
The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance said it was “highly disturbed that Deputy Mayor King instructed municipal inspectors to remove the Pride banner that is hung every year in the American embassy” so close to the date of a rally against discrimination planned for Sunday. “It’s sad that instead of working on behalf of all Jerusalemites, Deputy Mayor King is again trying to exclude” the LGBTQ community, said the group.
Ohad Hizki, director of the Aguda - Israel's LGBT Task Force, said: “Shame on the Jerusalem Municipality, which keeps ignoring an entire population in the city and allows through its actions violent hatred from Deputy Mayor Arieh King.”