Amid a large contingent of police, including a helicopter and officers on horseback, a relatively small number of gay and transgender men and women marched through the streets of the capital Thursday night in the annual Jerusalem Gay Pride parade.
According to Jerusalem Open House, which represents the city’s LBGT community, while the event normally attracts several thousand participants, two postponements during Operation Protective Edge diminished this year’s showing.Nonetheless, roughly 2,000 people – gay and straight – marched downtown to support greater tolerance of the capital’s thousands of LBGT residents.“Both of my sons are gay, and I’ve been volunteering for years at Tehila [a gay rights organization], which supports parents of LBGT people and helps them go through the process of acknowledging and accepting their children,” said Nita Klausner.Asked to gauge the present level of tolerance for gay citizens, Klausner said she was heartened by inroads the city has made.“Jerusalem’s come a long way in my eyes in accepting gays,” she said. “A lot of work has been done by the Open House – which is partially supported by the municipality – including funding for support groups, lectures, and activities during the High Holy Days for those who can’t go home to their families.”Hannah, a heterosexual ex-pat from London, who requested her last name not be published, said she marched to encourage equal human rights for all the city’s residents.“I believe that gay rights are human rights, and as a Zionist and someone who gave up a lot to live in this country, I believe it’s important to build a society that exemplifies the Jewish values I was taught,” she said.“I think that Israel needs to be a home for everyone who lives here, and it makes me sad that this is more of a demonstration than a parade.”Yuval Sadan, a 30-year-old gay Jerusalemite, described the parade as an important reminder that a sizable gay community lives in the city and should be treated with respect.“The parade is important in many ways,” said Sadan.“It’s important that people remember that we want to live and prosper here. It’s also important that the gay community shows itself in the capital, especially at this time when there is a call for tolerance.”Citing the rioting that engulfed the city following the murders of yeshiva students Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel – compounded by the revenge slaying of Muhammad Abu Khdeir – Sadan added that much work remains to achieve a truly pluralistic community.“Jerusalem still suffers from a lack of tolerance,” he said wearily.Noa Luzzati, an 18-year-old lesbian from Modi’in, echoed Sadan’s sentiments.“Here people don’t accept gay people as they do in Tel Aviv,” she said. “One of the reasons is that the government is based here and many of the religious people are homophobic. So I don’t feel safe here.”