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LGBT group fighting to keep anti-gay protest from pride parade

Lehava activists plan demonstration against Jerusalem march; gay parents ask police to keep them away

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

People marching at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem on September 18, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
People marching at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem on September 18, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

LGBT activists turned to police on Thursday in a bid to have a protest by the ultra-nationalist Lehava group against the Jerusalem gay pride parade canceled.

Lehava members plan on holding a so-called “humanitarian” demonstration against the pride parade, which is scheduled for Thursday evening in the nation’s capital, the group’s leader Bentzi Gopshtain told Walla news site.

Activists will hold posters that read: “Mommy, where’s my daddy?” and “Daddy, where’s my mommy?”

The gay pride group, “The Council of Proud Parents,” requested that police not allow the group to demonstrate outside of the parade.

Lehava’s primary platform is opposition to relationships between Jews and non-Jews. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has sought to have the group classified by the state as a terror organization after some of its members were charged with setting fire to a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem late last year.

Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopshtain being taken to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on December 16, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopshtain being taken to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on December 16, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We stand aghast at the inflammatory path of the Lehava organization in their campaign to use our children [against us],” Ronen Kaplan, a member of the council, wrote on Thursday.

“The group intends to create, parallel to the Jerusalem pride parade, a ‘humanitarian’ demonstration, which will threaten and incite people to harm our children. It will not be possible for us to march freely in Jerusalem in the parade — families and individuals together — with the fear that something will befall our kids,” Kaplan said.

The police did not respond to a request for comment before publication.

The Jerusalem pride parade has often been the source of conflict in the 13 consecutive years that it has been organized, as some religious populations of the city consider homosexuality to be a sin.

During the pride parade 10 years ago, an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed three pride parade participants in 2005, yelling that he was on a mission from God.

The man, Yishai Schlissel, has completed his prison sentence and was recently released, Walla news reported.

The Jerusalem Police Department worked closely with organizers of the event to prevent such attacks from happening again. Organizers anticipate that some 5,000 people will take part in this year’s parade.

The parade is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. and run from the capital’s Independence Park to Liberty Bell Park.

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