The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance received threats over the weekend to attack the LGBTQ+ Pride March, set to take place on June 1.
"I hope that Yishai Schlissel (the haredi man who murdered Shira Banki, a 15-year-old girl at the 2015 Pride parade) will be there to finish the job he started. [It's] disgusting how you celebrate this mental disorder," wrote the threatener in an email to the Open House.
The individual in question has sent multiple threats to the Open House in recent years.
Jerusalem community leader: Parade will continue marching
Over the weekend, the Open House filed a report about the threats to the police.
Alon Shachar, CEO of the Jerusalem Open House, stressed that "We have gotten used to the reality where the LGBTQ+ community is the object of hatred and evil by extremists. The parade will continue marching without question, and there will be a place for everyone, for everyone who believes in love, tolerance, freedom and equality."
Shachar noted that this year is expected to be the biggest ever Jerusalem Pride march, adding "Nothing will undermine our security and our right to exist, the marchers will march with their heads held high and without fear. I call on Israel Police to reach that person and to treat every small threat as a big one, to ensure the safety of the marchers and to ensure the safe occurrence of the parade."
In response to the threats, Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav Hertzanu tweeted "Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, the responsibility for the security of the marchers is yours and you must act immediately to prevent the next murder. You can't trust the 'national failure minister' who led the beast parade and petitioned to cancel the parade. They will not prevent us from marching proudly in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem."
The Jerusalem Pride march will open Pride Month events in Israel on Thursday, June 1, with this being the 21st year that the march has been conducted in the Israeli capital. The march receives numerous threats every year and takes place under intense security measures.
In December, Noam party head MK Avi Maoz, a member of the coalition headed by Netanyahu, told the Olam Katan Shabbat pamphlet that he would “see to it” that the march is canceled. The Jerusalem Open House responded by launching a charity fund in honor of Maoz, dedicated to "strengthening the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in Jerusalem - in a parade, in the media, and in any way we can think of!"
The Open House set up a page on their website to donate to the fund, adding that they would update Maoz when donations were made with a personal thank you letter. Within less than a month, the fund raised over NIS 100,000. Thanking Maoz for his help in raising the funds, the Open House sent a letter to the MK inviting him to the event in late December.
Open House warns of 'emergency situation' in Jerusalem's LGBTQ+ community
Last week, during a special discussion by the Knesset Public Security Committee, Emuna Klein Barnoy, community director at the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, warned that Jerusalem's LGBTQ+ community is facing an "emergency situation" in light of the current government, with LGBTQ-phobic incidents being reported dozens of times every day.
"We're seeing violence distributed throughout the entire city," said Barnoy. "We're being flooded by reports. The number of reports to the Open House rose from 14 reports per day to 20-25 reports per day. We're collapsing under the workload created by the emergency situation that our community has entered due to the current government."
A position paper by the Jerusalem Open House noted that while in the past there were specific hotspots of anti-LGBTQ+ violence, that violence has now spread throughout the capital, with a marked increase of physical violence or threats of physical violence.
Additionally, in the past four months, the Jerusalem Open House has received at least one report per week of an LGBTQ+ individual being kicked out of their home or losing their source of livelihood due to their identity.
A survey by the Israeli Institute for Gender and LGBTQ Studies found that a vast majority (86%) of LGBTQ+ Israelis across the country report that their sense of security has deteriorated in the past three months. 77% of the respondents stated that they do not trust the police to protect them.
Barnoy stressed that if the police do not attach importance to seemingly small crimes like tearing down Pride flags and throwing stones, victims of more violent attacks won't feel safe to file complaints with the police.
Barnoy stressed that the Jerusalem Pride march is coming up on June 1 and that while violence against LGBTQ+ people in Jerusalem always rises around the time of the march, this year an even larger increase in violence is expected.
"Last year, my children didn't leave the house for four days because of threats to their lives because their mother is the organizer of the march," said Barnoy.
According to the Agudah - The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, in March there was a four-fold increase in LGBTQ-phobic incidents compared to last March.
3,309 cases of LGBTQ-phobia were reported in 2022, an 11% increase compared to the previous year. There was a seven-fold increase in the number of LGBTQ-phobic incidents involving public figures and the media, a five-fold increase in the number of LGBTQ-phobic incidents in public places and an eight-fold increase in cases of discrimination at businesses.