The Jerusalem Pride Parade took place yesterday with over 2,500 police officers keeping watch on proceedings in the wake of the murder of 16 year-old Shira Banki.
Thousands of marchers flooded the streets to both celebrate Pride and to protest gay parental surrogacy rights and nation-state laws. Plainclothes police officers mixed with marchers as others kept watch from the sides, performing security checks at restricted entry points.
Standing out amongst the rainbow flags were signs created in memory of Banki, who was one of six people stabbed at the 2015 parade by the ultra-Orthodox zealot Yishai Schlissel, later succumbing to her wounds. Schlissel had previously stabbed three people at the 2005 parade and had just been released from prison after a ten year sentence. Organisers distributed flowers among the marchers which were then laid at the location of Banki’s attack.
Some of the marchers held aloft signs calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denouncing the nation-state law which many say is akin to apartheid towards Arab residents, and the recent voting down of legislation which would have allowed surrogacy for same-sex couples.
While there were no reported incidents of violence, not all residents were receptive to celebrating Jerusalem Pride. The city’s chief rabbi previously demanded all rainbow flags be removed from the vicinity of local synagogues, while over 200 religious clerics signed a letter calling the gay community an “organization of abominations” and branded the march “aggressive terrorism, accompanied by media brainwashing, to turn the perverts into heroes”.
In a further sign of an unwelcome stance from locals, Liberty Bell Park, which was used as a congregating area post-march, had its fencing covered with sheeting to prevent those outside from seeing the festivities. Also taking place in tandem with the parade was a counter protest organised by Orthodox rabbis unhappy with such a visible LGBT+ presence.
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