'We Are Here': Hundreds March in Southern Israeli City's Pride Parade

'Be’er Sheva is not the most accepting place there is, but since the marches began it seems it has improved,' youth participant says

Be'er Sheva LGBTQ pride parade, Israel, June 20, 2019.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israel’s southern city of Be’er Sheva held its third annual LGBTQ Pride Parade on Thursday, with some 1,000 people taking part in the march. 

The parade passed through a number of main roads in the center of Be’er sheva, which were closed to traffic as of 6 P.M., and ended in a rally in the square in front of City Hall.

On Tuesday, the police arrested a 68-year-old Be’er Sheva resident for posting on Facebook a threat against holding the parade. The Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court released the man to house arrest and he was required to present himself at the city’s police station during the time of the march.

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the spokesman for Be’er Sheva’s Pride House, Andy Ziv, said as the march kicked off that only three years ago “we stood together at the mass demonstration and demanded to hold a pride parade on the main street of the city, after the High Court of justice had ruled we must march on an alternative route on a narrow side street.

"Today, the parade marches on the main streets of the city and its route is decorated with rainbow flags. Many wonder why we must hold a pride parade in Be’er Sheva. The reason is simple: So that people will know we are here, we always were here and we will always remain here,” Ziv added.

Amit, 18, said the first march in the city allowed her to feel that “there are more options to express” herself. 

Even though Amit said the marches have raised the awareness of the LGBTQ community, “it did not help how the city residents, who have homophobic views, treat the gay community.”

“After the first gay pride parade took place in Be’er Sheva, I felt that my community has more room in the municipal framework,” said Tom Mindlin.

Be’er Sheva is not the most accepting place there is, but ever since the marches began it seems to have improved. But the more attention the community gets before the marches, the more negative responses it receives,” he added.

Seventeen-year-old Garrick Osher said that “In Be’er Sheva’s first gay pride parade I was already out of the closet, but mostly in discrete circles in which I took part, such as Israeli Gay Youth (IGY). When the marches started to take place in the city, I began to feel more and more confident, which led me to come out to wider circles.”