Jerusalem gay-pride parade held under tight security amid threats

Jerusalem, Jun 2 (EFE).- Thousands of people gathered Thursday for the annual LGBT pride parade in Jerusalem, where police were deployed in force after organizers received death threats.

With some 2,400 officers providing security, the participants walked along the streets of downtown West Jerusalem holding rainbow flags and chanting slogans advocating for LGBT rights.

Tension surrounded this year’s pride march in the Holy City, whose large presence of Orthodox Jewish, traditionalist and far-right groups typically makes for a hostile environment.

The signs displayed by marchers in Jerusalem take on a more political, rights-affirming bent when compared to its counterpart event in Tel Aviv, a liberal, secular city where the LGBT movement is more widespread and normalized.

“There were a lot of threats, but there was a lot of security and we feel safe. This is our country and this is our capital,” Yonni Kipling, who came from Tel Aviv to take part in the parade, told Efe. “I came to march for gay rights in Israel and for free love and liberation.”

Hours before the march kicked off, police barred access to the parade route to both pedestrians and vehicles.

Police on Thursday arrested an individual suspected of issuing death threats against one of the organizers. Prior to the start of the event, officers also arrested two men suspected of planning attacks on parade participants.

In 2015, one person marching in that year’s Jerusalem pride parade, teenager Shira Banki, was stabbed to death by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish assailant, an incident that has since been commemorated at each annual march.

On this occasion, several ministers of the current government coalition and members of the Knesset, Israel’s unicameral legislature, participated in the parade The legislative speaker, Micky Levy, is expected to give a speech at the end of the event.

The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance has been held since 2002 on a different date from Tel Aviv’s annual gay-pride event, which annually attracts tens of thousands of participants. EFE


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