Up 5,000 people marched in central Jerusalem on Thursday for the 10th annual LGBT Pride and Tolerance parade.
Participants marched yesterday (2 August) through Jerusalem’s city center without no major incidents, holding banners such as ‘A decade of marching in Jerusalem,’ and ‘Love thy neighbour.’
The march started at 5.30pm at Gan Haatzmaut Park and made its way through through King George Street, Paris Square and Keren Hayesod, to Gan Hapaamon Park, where there was a rally. On route, marchers passed by the spot where an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed three participants in 2005.
Speaking with Gay Star News, Elinor Sidi, the director of the organizing NGO Jerusalem Open House said: 'We had quite a typical Jerusalem mix, to our delight some brave ultra-Orthodox Jews joined our march, as well as some of members of the Palestinian LGBT community of East Jerusalem.'
Despite the fact the march was routed away from religious areas, Ultra-Orthodox Jews protested against the march, albeit peacefully.
Sidi stressed that 'this was an opportunity for us to reflect on the changes that Jerusalem has undergone in the past decade.
'We fortunately do not have stabbing and riots like we had in some of the past pride marches, and we returned for the first time in years to march in the city center.
'Yet there is still a lot of work to be done to make Jerusalem a more tolerant place for all.
'In contrast to most pride events taking place in June, as a means to commemorate the Stonewall riot, we chose to mark the date of the horrendous murder in the LGBT youth club of Tel Aviv in 2009.
‘We wanted to remember this date as will celebrate the diversity of the LGBT community, its pluralism - by fighting hatred through love.’
Sidi also wanted to highlight to problems that this self-financed pride faces and beyond: ‘The municipality of Jerusalem finance religious Jewish events with millions of shekels [local Israeli currency], which is fine, but it is important to highlight it provides no funding whatsoever to events like ours, and others, that call for tolerance.
‘Jerusalem is significant more than just for us residents of the city, and therefore I hope that pressure could be brought to bear on the local government, not just for sponsorship but to highlight its rather skewed priorities.’
Baruch Marzel, an extreme right wing activist from the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, planned to march live donkeys along the parade route to draw a ‘connection’ LGBT people and bestiality.
Organizers however informed the Israel ministry of agriculture of animal abuse and the donkeys were stopped by its officers before they were allowed to participate in the ‘counter protest’.
In addition the ‘Welcome to Jerusalem’ sign was painted in rainbow colours the night before the march by undercover activists.
City officials stated that police are investigating the ‘incident’.