Jerusalem annual gay pride parade.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will not attend his city’s LGBTQ annual pride parade in August, in a continuation of his past policy.
“They are part of the city of Jerusalem; we take care of them, we give them all the rights they deserve.
They are allowed to march, but for me to march with them is a little bit of a different story,” Barkat told reporters at city hall on Wednesday.
Barkat has never attended the Jerusalem Pride Parade, however, he faced increased pressure to march in the 2016 event after a Jewish extremist stabbed six people, killing 16-year-old Shira Banki, in the 2015 parade. This year’s parade is scheduled for August 3.
“There are other ways to show my care and my gratitude, which is to bring them to my office, take care of their needs; that I do,” Barkat remarked, “But in the public domain of our city, which you probably understood is complex, you need a bit more sensitivity than maybe in other places. That sensitivity is what drives me as mayor to respect them, but not necessarily to march in the parade.
Tom Canning the Associate Director of The Jerusalem Open House, an LGBTQ rights group that produces the Jerusalem Pride Parade, said in a statement: “Each year we invite the mayor to join us in the March for Pride and Tolerance, and hope that he realizes the positive message he would be sending to all of Jerusalem [by attending]. We are disappointed to now learn he decided once again not join us.”
The municipality has expanded its cooperation with Jerusalem Open House since the 2015 stabbing attack, the statement said.
“We will continue to meet and work with Mr. Barkat to ensure that LGBTQ Jerusalemites also become part of his vision of a diverse and tolerant city,” it continued.
Around 25,000 people attended the 15th Jerusalem Pride Parade last year, under heavy security from police.