Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy was scheduled to deliver a speech at Jerusalem's pride parade Thursday evening, becoming the first in his position to do so.
Ynet has learned that Levy decided to attend the rally following death threats that were sent to organizers and liberal Knesset members as well as inciteful rhetoric directed at the event that has been going strong in the capital for two decades.
"I was shocked to the core of my being by the heinous calls for murder and foul words targeted at the LGBT community, incitement that has already led to murder in the past," said Levy, who was the first Jerusalem District Police commander to sign off on the parade 20 years ago.
"We mustn't remain silent in the face of backward people who spread hatred and incite violence. As a Knesset speaker who represents the entire Israeli public, it is important for me to stand up tonight and say it loud and clear: LGBT people are equal citizens of the State of Israel and deserve full equality.
On Wednesday, police arrested a man who is suspected of sending identical threats to the organizer of the Jerusalem pride parade Emuna Klein Bar-Noy and Labor MK Gilad Kariv via social media.
The message read, "we will not allow the pride parade to take place in Jerusalem. The fate of Shira Banki awaits them," referring to a 15-year-old girl who was stabbed to death by an ultra-Orthodox man while attending the parade in Jerusalem in 2015.
Klein Bar-Noy also received other messages featuring death threats and images of firearms.
In light of these threats and past incidents, thousands of uniformed and plainclothes police officers will be deployed throughout the city before and during the parade.