Israeli Police Walk Back Restrictions on LGBTQ Pride Event That 'Rewarded Extremism'

High Court Justices slam police decision to reroute Mitzpeh Ramon Pride Parade for fear of drawing ire from a nearby yeshiva and call on the force to 'do their homework'

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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The first Pride parade in the southern desert town of Mitzpeh Ramon, in 2021.
The first Pride parade in the southern desert town of Mitzpeh Ramon, in 2021.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The Israel Police have reconsidered the rerouting of Friday’s Pride parade in the southern desert town of Mitzpeh Ramon, in response to a petition to the High Court of Justice by the event’s organizers.

The police initially approved an alternative route that did no pass through the city’s center as planned in the parade’s original route as it passed near a local yeshiva.

The police said at a hearing on the petition on Wednesday there was a near certainty that serious harm would be caused to the participants of the parade.

Justice Uzi Vogelman said “there is no physical overlap between original parade route [through the center of town] and the yeshiva. It’s not a situation in which there is entry into a hostile area and the police have no way of separating the two sides.”

The state representative cited comments made by head of the Mitzpeh Ramon yeshiva, Rabbi Tzvi Kostiner: “Don’t be ashamed to say – gays go home. Homos go home. Evil, evil and more evil and we remain silent.”

She said that he holds extreme views about the LGBTQ community and had made extreme statements. The state had also said that the proposed rerouting had been based on an intelligence assessment.

Justice Daphne Barak-Erez called on the police “to do their homework” first. “You don’t have a specific complaint here regarding the yeshiva, so what’s the message? That a Pride parade can’t pass through a city street because there’s a yeshiva a few dozen meters away?” she asked. “Because if that’s what you’re claiming, you need something more concrete.”

“What’s the message you’re sending here?” Barak-Erez added. “If extreme statements result in the pride parade being diverted, then apparently it pays off to act in an extreme manner.”

After justices on the panel hearing the case questioned the position of the police, they agreed to have the parade proceed as originally planned.

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