Police Bar LGBTQ Protest Over Cancelled Pride Parade in Southern Israeli Town

Protesters charge police 'caved to extremists,' after the Israeli town's first ever Pride Parade was nixed due to threats against organizer's mother

Nati Yefet
Nati Yefet
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Gay Pride Parade last year.
Gay Pride Parade last year.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Nati Yefet
Nati Yefet

Police rejected a request by the LBGT community to protest the cancellation of next month's Gay Pride Parade in a southern Israeli city on Wednesday, saying it might harm public safety.

Aguda – Israel’s LGBTQ Task Force requested to stage the demonstration in front Netivot’s city hall or next to the mayor’s office after a decision was made Wednesday to cancel the parade in light of threats made against the mother of one of the organizers. The parade was set to take place on June 3.

The police rejected Aguda’s request on the grounds that the proposed site for the protest was adjacent to an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. The police offered to allow the demonstration to be held a site near the entrance to the town, but the group turned down the offer.

Harel Lev and Nofar Zohar, organizers of the Pride Parade, which was planned to take place in Netivot and was canceled, Wednesday.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

In explaining its decision, the police told the organization that officers would be too busy that evening with Lag Ba’omer festivities in Meron and in Netivot itself, “something that makes it difficult to prepare [for the protest] under the circumstances.” The police also said that based on the Agudah’s stated plans for the event, it was “nearly certain that there would be serious and severe harm to public safety and order” due to the protest.

“The police caved to extremists and pushed us aside,” Aguda said in a statement. “This is a serious blow to the freedom of our voice being heard. The police are afraid to deal publicly with homophobia in Netivot as is the municipality. We are not afraid, we won’t be silenced, and we won’t give up because members of the pride community in Netivot and nationwide deserve to feel safe."

Israel's police later responded with a statement saying it did not cancel the protest as it had offered safer alternatives. "We will continue to allow freedom of expression and protest as a matter of law and prevent the realization of the intentions of those who seek to violate this right and violate the public order and security of the demonstrators," they added.

The Aguda said it would announce later what steps it would take in conjunction with the local community.

A stone was hurled at the organizer's mother last week breaking her car's window, while a bag containing bullets was hung in front of her place of work on Wednesday.

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