Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade Celebrates 10th Anniversary

15 August 2012 By Ruby Ong

16 August 2012

gayprideThousands of people marched through Jerusalem earlier this month for the 10th annual Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, which was organized by Israel’s largest gay community center and former NIF grantee Jerusalem Open House.

"It seems that Jerusalem has accepted its gay community members," said Jerusalem Open House director Elinor Sidi. "We expected 3,000 participants and 5,000 turned up. Jerusalem has changed a lot over the past 10 years."

With major support from NIF in its earlier years, when the parade aroused violent hostility from opponents, the Jerusalem pride parade has now become an integral part of the city's cultural calendar and takes place with little opposition.

In years gone by the police have banned the parade from the city center, postponed it due to security concerns, and in 2005, an ultra-Orthodox man stabbed and injured three parade participants.

Stabbing victim Adam Russo said, “Against violence, you can never give up. If you give up, it will only get stronger, it will only be legitimized.”

This year there was a strong police presence, but in the end there was only one relatively tame right-wing protest by extremist Baruch Marzel who, as every year, came along with mules to symbolize that in his eyes gays are beasts. Sidi said, "This year we were prepared for him and we alerted inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture who came and confiscated the mules because in their opinion he was treating them cruelly. It was a highlight of the event to see his embarrassment."

Another talking point was the painting of the Welcome sign at the entrance to Jerusalem in rainbow colors. Sidi said, "This was done by anonymous people and we condemn interfering with public property. But we cannot accept the hypocrisy of the government. The Ministry of Internal Security put out a press release condemning the criminal act, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out a press release showing the rainbow welcome sign and proudly saying that Jerusalem was decked out in rainbow colors for its annual gay parade." The keynote speaker, US philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, said, "I believe in an open inclusive world where we can be proud of who we are."