Pride in Jerusalemm: A year after the murder at the Tel Aviv gay youth club, about 2,000 participants in the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade have gathered in the city's Independence Park and embarked on the annual march, headed towards the Knesset building.
A rally will be held in the nearby Rose Garden at 8 pm in memory of those murdered in last year's hate crime.
The parade was again shrouded in controversy, with participants facing three separate anti-gay protests
One is being organized by rightists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir in Paris Square near Independence Park. Dozens of people joined the protest, holding up signs reading: "Sick perverts, get out of Jerusalem."
Speaking at the site, Marzel told Ynet that homosexuality is a "voluntary disease."
"People aren't born with it. Just like someone has AIDS and is being asked not to pass it on to others. They are trying to pass it on to others. This ruins the whole Western world," he said.
Later, police detained three far Right female activists near Independence Park in possession of eggs, which they apparently intended to hurl at parade marchers. The three females were held for questioning.
Another protest was being held at Shabbat Square, next to the haredi neighborhood of Mea Shearim, at the behest of Lithuanian Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv. A third protest took the form of a parade of donkey puppets and was scheduled to depart from Binyanei HaUma (Jerusalem's International Convention Center) towards the Supreme Court at 7 pm.
The gay pride events in the capital were officially kicked off during a festive meeting in Jerusalem Municipality with a moment of silence in memory of those murdered in the gay youth center shooting. An empty chair was reserved with the sign "Reserved for Mayor Nir Barkat" was placed in the meeting as an act of protest against the mayor's decision not to attend the gay pride events.
Jerusalem Meretz Faction Chairman Yosef Alalu, who chaired the meeting, said, "Even though the municipal government has changed, everything has stayed the same in terms of their treatment of the gay community. Jerusalem is a very unfriendly city to the gay community, and, unfortunately, the situation is severe."
Anti-parade protest (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz slammed the initiative undertaken by Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) to hold a parade of cardboard donkeys.
"When I hear Pindrus' statements as he sits in a suit and receives a salary from the State and incites by saying 'donkeys, animals, perverts,' I am shocked that he does not understand that such words and actions are what lead to the grave violence we witnessed a year ago. Why don't people like him show responsibility and ask themselves why things like this occur?" he said.
"We will continue coming here every year, especially to Jerusalem because this is the most important place for the gay community – not only for us, but for everyone to whom the State of Israel's character as a free and democratic country is important. Everyone who thinks like this must come," Horowitz concluded.
Michael, who was injured in the attack on the gay youth center, attended the meeting. "The murderers are still free. One can't know who it was and it is hard to deal with the knowledge that whoever did it is roaming free. Last year it was Murderer X, and next year it will be Murderer Y. The sentiment here is complex. On the one hand, it's sad, but on the other hand, it gives hope for life and reminds us that together we can make a change."