Thousands of people took part in Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride parade under heavy police guard on Thursday, mindful of a fatal 2015 attack on marchers in the largely conservative city.
“We shall not allow any disturbance to public order and we shall ensure the safety of the march and its participants,” a police statement said.
It said that about 10,000 people arrived for the start of the parade, setting off from a downtown Jerusalem park to march through nearby streets.
Speaking to AFP at the starting point, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, of the centrist Zionist Union alliance, said: “I am here to send a message to the government that the state of Israel must be a state with values such as equality and freedom.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, which includes an ultra-Orthodox party that condemns homosexuality.
Across the road a few dozen demonstrators gathered to protest against the parade and raised a banner in Hebrew reading: “No entry for this abomination to the Holy City.”
Police kept them away from the parade-goers and said no violent incidents were reported.
“Weapons of all kinds, drones and all types of aircraft” were banned from the assembly point and from the parade route, police said.
Officers questioned 41 people suspected of intending public disorder and arrested one person who was taken to a police station for further investigation.
The city centre was closed to traffic and police said participants were subjected to security checks before being allowed to join the rally.
– ‘Pride and Tolerance’ –
Emily Matheys, a 21-year-old from the northern city of Haifa, said she joined the parade to march for “equality in all walks of life”.
“Mainly for me, as a transsexual woman, it comes to the most basic things like walking in the street without fearing for my life,” she told AFP.
In the 2015 attack, a 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death and five other people were wounded.
The attacker was Yishai Shlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, who is now serving a life sentence.
Shlissel had spent 10 years in jail after a similar attack on the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride march, and had been released just three weeks before the event, leading to criticism of the police.
The Jerusalem parade has taken on added significance since then, with many from outside the gay community joining the march in solidarity and to call for tolerance.
Israel has the most open attitude to homosexuality in the Middle East, with a large and influential gay community.
But conservative Jerusalem, which is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians, is far less gay-friendly than liberal Tel Aviv.
Bisexual Jerusalem resident Doron Mosenzon, a participant in the parade, said sexual orientation was not subject to religious or cultural boundaries.
“The gay community is everywhere in all populations — religious, secular, Jews, Arabs, Christians — we are part of everyone and we’ve been here forever, and we will continue to be here and fight for our place here,” he said.
This year’s parade, the 17th annual Jerusalem march, is being held under the banner of “Pride and Tolerance”.
Organisers had said they expected a high turnout due to what they say is a groundswell of public sympathy for gay rights in the wake of a recent law denying surrogacy rights to same-sex couples.
On July 22 sympathisers around the country staged work stoppages and an estimated 60,000 people attended a solidarity rally in Tel Aviv.
‘Downward spiral’: Trump ripped by prominent conservative for turning America into ‘a pitiful, helpless giant’
Writing in the Washington Post this Wednesday, columnist George Will contends that President Trump's "rhetorical mustard" is starting to lose its flavor. "The entertainer has become a bore, and foretelling his defeat no longer involves peering into a distant future," Will writes.
"Never has a U.S. election come at such a moment of national mortification. In April 1970, President Richard M. Nixon told a national television audience that futility in Vietnam would make the United States appear to the world as 'a pitiful, helpless giant.' Half a century later, America, for the first time in its history, is pitied."
Trump fights Supreme Court order on taxes — will try to block Manhattan district attorney’s access to documents
Attorneys for President Donald Trump have decided to fight the Manhattan District Attorney's subpoena for his tax returns and financial data in an attempt to "block or at least narrow access to the records," The New York Times reports.
The move comes despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling less than a week ago in favor of DA Cyrus Vance and against the president.
Buzzfeed's Zoe Tillman adds, "Trump says he will file an amended complaint raising new legal arguments to challenge the NY grand jury subpoena for his tax returns, in light of the latest SCOTUS decision."
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
‘That’s Peter Navarro’: Trump excuses trade adviser’s op-ed smearing Dr. Fauci as ‘wrong about everything’
President Donald Trump on Wednesday waived off concerns about an op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro which took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States.
In a Tuesday USA Today op-ed, Navarro accused Fauci of being "wrong about everything."
The White House later suggested that Navarro had gone rogue by publishing an unapproved column.
But on Wednesday, Trump declined to admonish his trade adviser.