10,000 Expected at Pride Parade in Jerusalem Next Week

Large turnout expected one year after Shira Banki was stabbed and killed during the march.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Participants walk near the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, during a gay pride parade in Jerusalem.
Participants walk near the Knesset during a gay pride parade in Jerusalem. Credit: Reuters
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Security will be tighter than ever at Jerusalem’s 15th annual gay pride parade next Friday, a year after a 16-year-old participant was stabbed to death during the event.

On June 26, Yishai Schlissel was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Shira Banki and the attempted murder of six other people at the 2015 march.

That attack came just a few weeks after Schlissel completed a 10-year prison term for wounding three people at the 2005 Jerusalem pride parade.

Organizers are expecting around 10,000 participants this year, a record turnout. An estimated 4,000 people attended last year’s event, whose official name is the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance.

The police have agreed to extend the parade route, which will begin where last year’s stepped off, at Liberty Bell Park. The march ends at Independence Park, and at the site of Banki’s murder, on Keren Hayesod Street, a memorial will be held.

The march’s organizer, Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, had some trouble finding musicians to appear this year, but singer Corinne Allal eventually volunteered to perform.

“Shortly after Shira’s murder there were many people who said that even if they disagree with the LGBT way of life, and even if they oppose holding the parade in Jerusalem, they totally reject violence as a legitimate way of conducting the dispute. To all those people and to everyone who thinks that way, we expect to see you this year and in the coming years,” wrote Ori Banki, Shira’s father, on his Facebook page.

At the same time, some members of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are critical of Mayor Nir Barkat, who hasn’t met with LGBT activists since the murder.

Individuals from Open House who spoke with Haaretz said they are satisfied with the level of cooperation they receive from the city, which increased its allocations to the organization in the past year.

Other LGBT activists in Jerusalem claim that Barkat has avoided meeting with them out of fear of his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners and a desire to maintain a conservative image.

In a response statement, the city said: “We are sorry about those who are preoccupied solely with slander against the municipality and the mayor, and for that purpose are distorting the facts. The municipality approved the unprecedented sum of 440,000 shekels to Open House (around $110,000) for 2016, in addition to 40,000 shekels for a memorial service 30 days after Banki’s murder, held in cooperation with the Open House, and at which the mayor spoke.

“In addition, the Division for the Advancement of Youth has worked with the Open House regularly during the year.

“Also, as is done every year, before the parade next week rainbow flags will be hung along the route of the parade,” the statement from the Jerusalem municipality said.

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