It is a year since a 16-year-old girl celebrating Pride was stabbed to death and wounded several others by an extremist religious murderer, but attendance is expected to be higher than ever.
But one man who will not be there is Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barket who said he will not participate in today’s Pride parade for fear of offending the ultra-Orthodox (Heredi) community.
He said while he supports the rights of LGBTI community to march, he does not believe it’s the best path to tolerance.
‘I am a partner to the aim of achieving more tolerance, but not every means brings you to that target,’ he said on television, defending his view.
‘For example, I know many people seem themselves offended by the parade. It is not a means of achieving the goal.’
The parade route avoids largely ultra-Orthodox areas, but the annual march has long drawn protests from religious groups.
Zionist Union MP Meray Michaeli accused Barkat of siding with the man who killed the 16-year-old Shira Banki.
‘A day after the parade we need to live together. I am a great believer in tolerance. Tolerance is to listen,’ Barkat told Channel 2, Times of Israel reports. ‘If you take an action that harms someone, think twice if that action is the best way to achieve the result.’
He added: ‘I can also look the ultra-Orthodox and religious community in the eyes and clarify to them that it is the democratic right of the LGBT community to march, with all of the implications of that. On the other hand, I certainly think that it is legitimate, as the mayor, to look at the gay community in the eyes and tell that there is a shared life here.
‘Just as the [gay] community is taken into consideration and allowed to march, nothing will happen if it also takes into consideration the ultra-Orthodox community.’
Barkat claimed he would make his own private tribute to Banki on the day of the parade and lay a flower.
The mayor also ordered Pride flags to be removed from in front of the city’s Great Synagogue at the request of the city’s chief rabbi, according to Israel National News.