LGBTQ+ Pride march cancelled in Netivot after death threats

The organizers of the march in Netivot were targeted multiple times by violence and threats.

Pride flag at Jerusalem Pride march, June 2021 (photo credit: GAL GASHMA)
Pride flag at Jerusalem Pride march, June 2021
(photo credit: GAL GASHMA)

The first-ever LGBTQ+ Pride march that was to take place in Netivot was canceled on Wednesday after a bullet was placed on the office door of one of the organizers’ mothers and the family vehicle of another organizer was vandalized.

The march, which was planned for June 3, faced opposition from a number of local residents, with a petition against the march receiving over 4,800 signatures and a number of local rabbis speaking out against it. Some residents also held protests against the march.

Posts about the march on local Facebook groups such as “Netivot, my city” had a large number of comments opposing it, with many residents complaining that the southern Israeli city is not the place to hold an event like a Pride march.

In response to the threats and the cancellation of the march, the Agudah – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel – announced that it would hold a protest to support the LGBTQ+ community in Netivot on Thursday at 6 p.m. in front of the city’s municipality.

“A death threat against one of us is a threat against all of us. We will not be silent when the personal security of our friends in Netivot is in jeopardy and we will not be silent when LGBTQ-phobia raises its head again,” the Agudah said. “Tomorrow, we will demonstrate against this violence and together we will make heard a great voice of hope and tolerance – for all of us: for each and every one of us.”

 Aerial photo of Netivot (credit: Lehava Center - Netivot, SkyPic aerial photography Pikiwiki Israel via Wikimedia Commons) Aerial photo of Netivot (credit: Lehava Center - Netivot, SkyPic aerial photography Pikiwiki Israel via Wikimedia Commons)

“In recent years, we have initiated and supported dozens of pride and tolerance events all over the country,” the association added. “Year by year, the number of local pride events is growing because the LGBTQ+ community is everywhere and deserves to feel at home wherever it is.”

“Today, for the first time, together with the activists, we were sadly forced to make a decision to cancel a tolerance and pride event in Netivot for fear of the lives of the event organizers. A live bullet was sent to the mother of one of the organizers and the message was clear: Pride means murder,” said the Agudah, adding that they were hiring a security company to protect their activists and calling on the police to provide protection as well.

“The fact that in 2022, the very intention to hold an event, whose essence is tolerance and acceptance within the framework of discourse leads to explicit threats of murder, is the convincing proof that our struggle is not over. We will reach Netivot and reach every place and every town because we are here and everywhere.”

Jerusalem Pride posters vandalized

Meanwhile, posters put up by the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance to advertise the Pride march in the city were vandalized on Tuesday night.

“It is important for us to make it clear to vandalizers, haters and scorners that there is nothing that will stop us from working in Jerusalem for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and this year, too, we will proudly march in the upcoming Pride and Tolerance March in the city,” said JOH CEO Alon Shachar.

“On this occasion, I invite all the obsessed people working against the LGBTQ+ community to come to the Open House in Jerusalem – we will welcome you with open arms and help you get rid of the hatred,” he said.

The Jerusalem Pride march will take place on June 2 at 3 p.m. It will start from Liberty Bell Park and finish at Independence Park, with closing events beginning at 7 p.m.

 Vandalized poster for Jerusalem Pride march, May, 2022 (credit: Courtesy of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance) Vandalized poster for Jerusalem Pride march, May, 2022 (credit: Courtesy of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance)

Some 2,971 cases of LGBTQ-phobic hate and violence were reported in Israel in 2021 – the highest number reported since the first report was issued for data collected in 2013, according to the annual report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-phobia by the Agudah’s Nir Katz Center.

The figure marks a 10% rise compared to 2020 and means that, on average, a case of LGBTQ-phobia is reported about every three hours.