LGBTQ+ banner removed from US Embassy building by Jerusalem Municipality

"I agree with Aryeh King that there is no room for impurity in Jerusalem, and therefore call on the mayor to fire him."

Pride banner at the US Embassy building on Agron St. in Jerusalem after it was replaced on June 24 after being removed (photo credit: GAL GASHMA)
Pride banner at the US Embassy building on Agron St. in Jerusalem after it was replaced on June 24 after being removed
(photo credit: GAL GASHMA)
Inspectors from the Jerusalem Municipality ordered the US Embassy to remove a banner marking Pride month at a building belonging to the embassy near the Old City on Tuesday, after Deputy Mayor Arieh King complained that the banner was displayed illegally and called it an "impurity."
The order was issued because the embassy had not received permission to display the banner, according to the Jerusalem Municipality. The embassy is required to request permission from the municipality to display the banner and can replace the banner once a permit is received.
"Sadly, we cannot deviate from the procedures with any party seeking to display a sign," said the municipality in a statement. "As long as a permit is sought and the sign is in compliance with the rules, [the permit] will be issued without delay."
The sign was displayed on the property of the US Embassy's Palestinian Affairs Unit on Agron Street, near the Mamilla pedestrian mall.
King stated that "any body that tries to defile the holiness of Jerusalem needs to be opposed. Whether it is an Israeli body and of course when it comes to a guest who has come to the city," according to Arutz Sheva.
"I expect the municipality to handle it quickly and efficiently and to remove the impurity from the public area of Jerusalem," said King.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum told The Jerusalem Post that the municipality is working to rectify the situation.
"We are talking about a procedural misunderstanding which has been taken advantage of by known homophobe Arieh King who is a member of the city council. The city is working with the embassy to rectify the situation via the appropriate bureaucratic channels and hope to rectify the matter as soon as possible," said Nahoum. "Jerusalem is a city for all its residents and we will continue to ensure freedom of expression for all."
On Wednesday morning, the banner had been replaced, according to Nahoum. The Jerusalem Municipality announced on Wednesday morning as well that the municipality had instructed professional teams to put up Pride flags in the city on Saturday night ahead of a Pride rally set to take place on Sunday.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem explained on Tuesday evening that the sign had been taken down "pending a discussion with the City of Jerusalem," and that it would be rehung "as soon as possible."
"The United States is committed to protecting LGBTI and other marginalized communities around the world," said the Embassy in a statement. "All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and are endowed with the same unalienable rights."
The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance responded to the removal of the banner on Tuesday, saying "we are very disturbed that Deputy Mayor Arieh King ordered municipal inspectors to remove the Pride banner that was put up, as it is every year, at the US Embassy," said the Open House in a statement.
"It is sad that instead of acting for all Jerusalemites, Deputy Mayor King tried again to exclude the LGBTQ+ community and to erase [the community's] visibility. This attempt is doomed to failure. We call on the public to obtain Pride flags from the Open House for every house in Jerusalem and of course to join us for the rally on Sunday," added the Open House.
Yesh Atid MK Idan Roll, one of several openly gay MKs, responded to the incident as well, saying that "supporting rights for the LGBTQ+ community is not a challenge. Being proud of who you are and demanding the basic rights that apply to every person, such as the right to equality and family, is not unclean."
"I agree with Arieh King that there is no room for impurity (tumah in Hebrew) in Jerusalem, and therefore call on the mayor to fire him," added Roll.
Hassan-Nahoum reported on Wednesday that the banner was put back up.
The Open House is hosting a rally to mark Pride month on Sunday, as similar rallies are held in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba. The rally will take place at Independence Park in Jerusalem and will include speeches, performances and a festive party.