Police okay anti-gay protest during Jerusalem pride march

Police okay anti-gay protest during Jerusalem pride march

Ultra-nationalist Lehava group to stage demonstration against LGBT community during Thursday’s parade

The Jerusalem pride parade, July 21, 2016 (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
The Jerusalem pride parade, July 21, 2016 (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Israel Police gave the final okay on Sunday for the ultra-nationalist Lehava group to hold a protest against Jerusalem’s annual LGBT pride march during the event on Thursday, against the wishes of a gay pride group for parents.

Police will allow for 100 Lehava members to stage the protest, several hundred meters away from the marchers and under heavy guard from police officers.

This year’s Lehava protest will be held under the banner “Don’t give them children,” a reference to the national debate about same-sex adoption in Israel.

Lehava said it planned to hold a “humanitarian” demonstration against the pride parade, scheduled for Thursday evening. The march will run from the capital’s Independence Park to Liberty Bell Park

Lehava’s primary platform is opposition to relationships between Jews and non-Jews. Some of its members were convicted of setting fire to a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem in 2014. The group has also taken aim at the LGBTQ community whom it has accused of “defiling” the holy city.

Police were bracing for this year’s march which comes two years after 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death by an ultra-Orthodox man during the 2015 parade. The assailant was the same attacker who — 10 years prior — had stabbed three pride participants, yelling that he was on a mission from God. The man, Yishai Schlissel, had completed his 10-year prison sentence and had been recently released prior to the 2015 murder. He is now serving a life sentence.

Shira Banki. (Courtesy of the family)
Shira Banki (Courtesy of the family)

Days before the 2015 stabbing, Schlissel penned a handwritten anti-gay manifesto in which he called the pride march “shameful” and “blasphemous,” and alluded to plans to perpetrate another attack.

Some religious populations of the city consider homosexuality to be a sin.

Police have issued warnings to some 50 individuals, including a number of settlers living in the West Bank, according to a Channel 2 report, which added that a number of them were asked not to come to Jerusalem on Thursday.

Organizers anticipate that some 4,000 people will take part in this year’s parade.

Last year’s Jerusalem Pride March was held in honor of Banki and drew some 30,000 people.

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