J'lem pride parade to mark 2nd anniversary of TA attack

Over 5,000 marchers expected to participate in parade; activists to push for hate-crimes bill making attacks against homosexuals a serious crime.

July 28, 2011 06:01
4 minute read.
Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade 2011

Gay Pride Gallery RBD 3. (photo credit: Ricky Ben David)

More than 5,000 marchers are expected to participate in Jerusalem’s 10th annual Gay Pride Parade on Thursday afternoon.

Open House Executive Director, Yonatan Gher, called Thursday a “combined social struggle,” which will have at least three distinct protests imbuing the city with the air of social fervor. Indeed, protesters will include the doctors marching towards Jerusalem, students and families camped out in tents across the city, and thousands of gay-rights activists marching downtown.

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He estimated that the gay pride parade could almost double – from 4,000 participants last year to 7,000 participants this year – given the revolutionary vibe of the capital.

Thursday’s pride march will also mark the second anniversary of the shooting attack at Bar-Noar – the community center for gay and lesbian teens in Tel Aviv in 2009 – that left two dead and 15 wounded.

The theme of this year’s march, led by Jerusalem’s Open House, is “Intertwined Paths,” honoring the way the gay struggle has dovetailed with popular struggles for equal rights, housing, minimum wage and other social issues. The theme was chosen four months ago, but is especially resonant given the current tent protests sweeping the country, which are entering their second week.

Unlike gay pride parades across the world, which include colorfully festooned floats and provocative costumes celebrating the spectrum of sexuality, the Jerusalem march is more subdued and political.

“Jerusalem has less to party about and more what to protest about,” said march organizer Anat Kremein. “It takes place in one of the most ancient cities in the world, and we’re proud to be marching in this city – in the spirit of the city – but we’re not trying to be like other gay parades. We’re marching proudly, without putting emphasis on sexuality. The emphasis is on solidarity,” she added.

Major streets in downtown Jerusalem – from Independence Park to the Knesset, including parts of Agron, Rambam, and Rupin – will be closed to traffic starting at 4:00 p.m., until the march passes.

Jerusalem police are deploying more than 1,000 police, border police and volunteers to keep order and protect the marchers.

Meanwhile, some 1,000 ultra-Orthodox are expected to attend a legal counter-protest in Kikar Shabbat in the Mea Sharim neighborhood of the capital, similar to last year, said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby. There are no legal counter-protests planned for the parade route.

Last year, approximately 30 activists led by right-wingers Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir protested along the parade route. Deputy mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) also protested outside the Rose Garden around 7:00 p.m., carrying cardboard cutouts of donkeys to denounce the “bestial” nature of the participants. Pindrus had originally asked to bring live donkeys, but the request was denied. Five counter-demonstrators were detained for questioning by police.

Thursday’s event will start at Independence Park, with speakers and performances, and march to the Knesset for a rally with music and activists in the Wohl Rose Garden.

The march will be led by MKs Sheli Yachamovich (Labor) and Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the second openly-gay Knesset Member. Speakers include MK Zehava Gal-On, and Rachel El Gabsi Bohadana, whose partner, Fabiola Bohadana, was killed in the Carmel fire in December. She is now fighting to have the state recognize her relationship so that their 18-month-old daughter can access the benefits given to the victims of the fire.

Other speakers will talk about the gay community and the struggle for affordable housing, religious acceptance and other social issues.

Previously, the Jerusalem pride march has been held in early June, closer to Tel Aviv’s pride weekend, which drew 70,000 people this year. Organizers decided to move it to coincide with the anniversary of the 2009 attack in Tel Aviv, which claimed the lives of Nir Katz, 24, and Liz Troubashi, 17, when a masked gunman burst into the Bar-Noar center and sprayed a room full of teenagers with bullets. Fifteen were wounded. The attacker still has not been caught.

Gher, the executive director of the Open House, said that the protest in front of the Knesset on Thursday would have a renewed call for police to catch the perpetrator, and also call for the victims of the attack to be recognized as terror victims in order to receive support and compensation from the state.

Additionally, activists are pushing for a hate-crimes bill that would make attacks against minorities, including homosexuals, a more serious crime.

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