Jerusalem Pride organizers reject police proposal to ID participants

While authorities assert measure intended to protect demonstrators after 2015 stabbing, parade coordinators say demand raises serious privacy concerns

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Participants in Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade, August 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Participants in Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade, August 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The organizers of the Jerusalem Pride parade said Monday that they would not accept a police proposal to ID participants upon their entrance at next week’s demonstration.

“The demand for IDs at the parade raises serious concerns about privacy, even if the intentions are good,” the Jerusalem Open House — an LGBT rights group in the nation’s capital — said in a statement, referring to authorities’ efforts to ensure a safe rally four years after 16-year-old participant Shira Banki was stabbed to death by an ultra-Orthodox anti-gay extremist.

“No one will scare us and no one will prevent us from marching,” the Open House statement added.

The police proposal has never before been utilized at previous Pride parades or any other public protests in recent years.

Critics of the proposal questioned whether police would simply ask to see participants’ IDs or if their information would be cataloged — a particular concern for attendees who do not want their sexual identities known to others.

Lehava chairman Benzi Gopstein and right-wing activists protest against the gay parade during the annual Gay Pride parade at a main street in Jerusalem on July 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The LGBT rights group clarified that it was not responsible for determining security arrangements for next Thursday’s march, but said it would continue working with police to ensure it runs smoothly.

A statement from Israel Police said, “We are preparing in a orderly and professional manner for the parade, and in an effort to ensure the parade’s existence, we are preparing for security checks at the entrance, including a requirement to present an ID as stipulated by law.”

Responding to the police’s security plan, Meretz MK Michal Rozin recognized the Jerusalem authorities’ “heavy responsibility in ensuring the personal safety of marchers… especially after the despicable murder of Shira Banki in 2015.

“However, it is equally important to adapt this security response to the sensitivities of the LGBT community, particularly due to the fear of being ‘outed’ through the IDing of participants,” she said, adding that the measure placed Palestinians from East Jerusalem and transgender participants at particular risk.

Participants in Jerusalem”s annual Gay Pride Parade hold up a picture of the murdered Shira Banki on August 3, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

This Friday will mark the beginning of Pride month in Israel with a parade in the central city of Kfar Saba. Some 50 other pride parades will be held throughout the country in the coming weeks, most of them at colleges and universities.

The largest expected event is the annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade, which the city is predicting will attract hundreds of thousands of participants from around the country and the globe. The rally, typically viewed as a celebratory party, is expected to take on a protest-like vibe with organizers seeking to raise awareness of the discrimination suffered by the LGBT community, whose members face extensive hurdles in legally marrying and starting families in Israel.

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