Police Withdraw Demand for Fences at Gay Pride Parade

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Be'er Sheva's first Gay Pride Parage, 2017
Be'er Sheva's first Gay Pride Parage, 2017Credit: אילן אסייג

Police have withdrawn their demand that organizers of Friday’s Gay Pride Parade in Kfar Sava put up a 2-meter-high fence along the entire route of the march.

Originally, police had said they wouldn’t grant a permit for the parade without such a fence in place. But in a submission to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday, the state said this requirement had been withdrawn.

The brief said that Maj. Gen. Ami Eshed, commander of the police’s Central District, had decided the demand was out of place and overruled it. He also overruled another police demand – that organizers station trucks at key intersections to hide the marchers and block access to them.

The original demands, reported by Haaretz last week, were made by the commander of the Kfar Sava police station, Chief Superintendent Yoram Barina. He also insisted that organizers pay for all the security measures he called for.

Barina said these measures were necessary due to the sensitivity of the event – this is the first time the parade will take place in Kfar Sava – and to avoid a repeat of what happened at Jerusalem’s Pride Parade in 2015, when an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed Shira Banki, 16, to death while she was marching.

But the organizers said these demands were completely illegal, and three organizations petitioned the High Court against them – the Kfar Sava chapter of Israeli Gay Youth, The Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

“These are illegal conditions,” said the petition, filed by lawyer Sapir Sluzker-Amran of ACRI. “The enormous financial and bureaucratic burden that police are imposing on the demonstration’s organizers – teenage girls and boys from the LGBT community – undermines freedom of expression and protest, puts a ‘price tag’ on expression and protest that deviate from the consensus, and plays into the hands of hostile, violent parties who threaten the lives and bodily integrity of parade participants.

“Police have an obligation to ensure that the right to demonstrate is implemented and bear all the costs entailed by security arrangements,” the petition added. “The gay community has the right to raise its voice proudly. ... While the demand for payment constitutes a ‘punishment,’ it is also a kind of prize for violence and thuggishness aimed at gagging opinions, and in addition it puts the key to exercising the right to demonstrate and march into the hands of those who oppose it.”

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