Police Detained LGBT Activists in Lead-up to Canceled Be'er Sheva Pride Parade

Some of the detainees say they were held for three hours before police investigators, stating that there was no reason for the detention, let them go.

The evening after the Be'er Sheva gay pride parade, 2013.
Shahar Kindler

The Be’er Sheva police detained several people from the city’s LGBT community before the city’s gay pride parade that was canceled, with one of them saying he is considering suing the state.

He said he spent three hours in a jail cell at before being told by an investigator: “I don’t understand why they called you in.” He was then released.

The activists were detained on Wednesday, a day before the parade was supposed to take place. It was canceled because of a threat of violence on the city’s main road, the police said. The High Court of Justice denied a petition against the police’s decision.

As another member of the community told Haaretz: “When I arrived at the [police] station they told me that I was suspected of threatening to cause harm. I sat behind bars for three hours, and when I went in to the investigator she told me, ‘Okay, I have no idea why they called you in; we have nothing against you, you can go home.'”

He said that during his short interrogation, the investigator took details about a WhatsApp group on his phone. “When I asked her what I was doing there, she told me it was ‘to gather testimony,’” he said.

The police also detained a 19-year-old resident of the city. They showed him WhatsApp conversations he took part in, as well as messages in which he called on activists to come with weapons to the planned parade.

He said the police issued an order keeping him out of the city until Friday, and he was being banned from the Jerusalem pride parade next week.

Also, two activists in the Be’er Sheva LGBT community were held after about 30 community members gathered outside city hall for photos with the media. The protesters then walked to a fountain on the other side of the road.

One of the detainees said the police had detained him near his home after he had left the fountain. At the police station the activists were told they had been detained for “illegal assembly.” The police said the detainees had been released immediately, and one person had been arrested “for investigative purposes.”

The police have not yet commented on complaints by members of the community, nor have they said how many people had been detained.